Aussie captain Lleyton Hewitt has hit out at the playing surface used for the Davis Cup in Spain after the new format moved away from home and away ties in the historic team tournament. Australia were soundly defeated in the final with Jannik Sinner making sure there was no doubts about the victory having swept aside Alex de Minaur in the second leg to seal the victory for Italy.
Hewitt was left to pick up the pieces after the loss, which saw Australia lose in the final for the second year in a row, having lost to Canada in 2022. This meant the 20-year wait for a Davis Cup trophy will continue for the proud tennis nation.
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However, Hewitt has been vocal about the Davis Cup format ahead of the knockout stages. And he has doubled down after watching Alexei Popyrin and de Minaur crash to defeats in the final.
The three-time grand slam champion called for the home and away ties to be restored before the final, which saw the International Tennis Federation confirm next year's event will be indoor hardcourt as well. And Hewitt has claimed the same surface used across the tournament takes away from the excitement of the historic event.
“We are playing on a surface that I’m really sick of playing on, to be honest," Hewitt said. "That’s not what Davis Cup is about—it’s playing on clay, grass, and outdoor elements. It’s obviously pretty frustrating, I think, that we don’t get all the different surfaces and conditions throughout the Davis Cup anymore, and especially in the big matches as well.”
Australia's hopes were ended in the Davis Cup final when Sinner defeated de Minaur comfortably in straight sets. Sinner has been in sensational form to end the season having reached World No.4 and defeating Novak Djokovic twice in the space of a fortnight. The Italian's ability to raise his game against de Minaur in the second set was extraordinary to witness, with Sinner clinching the 2-0 result for Italy in the Davis Cup final in a ruthless display.
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Ahead of Australia's clash with the Czech Republic, Hewitt was vocal about the current format of the Davis Cup. “The number one thing is home-and-away ties. I have watched plenty of vision the last few years even of back in the day when I was playing, Cash, Rafter, these guys. The crowds, even me coming back here to Spain and remembering 2000, Hewitt said.
"Rafa Nadal was carrying the flag onto the court in front of over 20,000 people, all booing and screaming against me, and it was still an unbelievable atmosphere that I’d want a dream of playing in. You know, that’s what the Davis Cup was about.
“So yeah, whether we played home semis and finals in Rod Laver Arena or away in France, in Nice, or obviously Barcelona, it was an unbelievable experience and some of my best memories. Some of my hardest memories, as well, but some of my very best.”
World No.1 Djokovic also reiterated Hewitt's point before his nation's quarter-final clash. "I actually personally feel that the best format will be somewhere in between the old one and the new one, but I don't think that this is best for the nations participating in the World Group," Djokovic said.
"The fact that we, as a team, have not played in Serbia many years is not great, because we don't give an opportunity to, you know, people in Serbia to watch us play, especially young people, young tennis players." While the format has come under scrutiny for some time from former players, the International Tennis Federation has no clear plan to change it in the near future.
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