Novak Djokovic responds after Lleyton Hewitt's Davis Cup takedown

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·Sports Reporter
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Lleyton Hewitt and Novak Djokovic have rival points of view over potential changes to the Davis Cup.
Lleyton Hewitt and Novak Djokovic are at odds over potential changes to the David Cup format with new owners set to take over the running of the tournament. Pictures: Getty Images

Novak Djokovic has responded to Australian tennis great Lleyton Hewitt's criticism of potential changes to the Davis Cup format if the tournament is sold to new owners has reported.

A deal has reportedly been reached for the Davis Cup to be exclusively held in Abu Dhabi for the next five years as part of a multimillion dollar deal spearheaded by the ITF.

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Also involved is Kosmos Tennis, a part of a broader sporting holding company which was founded by former Spanish footballer Gerard Pique.

Hewitt labelled the potential Abu Dhabi move 'ridiculous' when asked about it during Australia's Davis Cup qualification matches against Hungary.

The former Wimbledon champion said the move risked 'selling the soul' of the tournament if the changes were successfully introduced.

"I've only heard a rumour but I think it's ridiculous, it's not what Davis Cup is about," said Hewitt.

"The Davis Cup was held in the highest regard, up there with the pinnacle of our sport in tennis - with matches played over five sets.

"We threw that out the door and then we've thrown the home and away out the door as well. Playing a qualifying tie here or there, best of three sets (in the recent revamped format), is not the same as having home and away, main draw matches over the year.

"So if they're going and selling the soul of the Davis Cup to the Middle East for another five years, I think it's ridiculous, and they're really killing the competition."

However, ever one to march to the beat of his own drum, Djokovic said he was more open to the move.

Speaking after clinching victory for Serbia over Austria in their Davis Cup opener, the world No.1 said the sport had to balance tradition and new markets - and subsequently, new money.

“There is a lot of interest to bring Davis Cup or any other big tennis competition or sports competition to the Middle East,” he said.

“Economically they’re very strong and they can finance the big demands that you have for an organisation of such an important event.

“Now, the question is whether you follow the money, so to say, or you follow the tradition, or you find a balance between the two.

“That’s always the big question on anybody’s mind. Of course, there are a lot of differences. People think one way or another … I’m somewhere in between.”

Djokovic earlier stated that the previous Davis Cup format was ultimately too demanding for top players, throwing his support behind the current format, which sees the group stages played across just three different countries.

Australia's Davis Cup win set to be in vain

Australia's hopes of making the knockout stages at the Davis Cup Finals look doomed despite a courageous Alex de Minaur-inspired 2-1 victory over Hungary in Turin.

Hewitt's side came from behind after a shock defeat for John Millman to earn the victory on Saturday that was their minimum requirement following their calamitous 3-0 loss to Croatia in their opening Group D tie on Thursday.

Yet with the Croats set to wrap up the group victory on Sunday by beating Hungary, the Australians' record of two rubbers won and four lost almost certainly won't be enough to earn them a place in the quarter-finals, even as one of the two best group runners-up.

Hewitt accepted they'd probably be flying home but reckoned he was "extremely proud" of their fighting spirit.

An impressive performance from Alex de Minaur helped Australia defeat Hungary in the Davis Cup qualifying round.
Despite an impressive rally to help Australia win their tie over Hungary 2-1, Alex de Minaur was unable to lift the team beyond the Davis Cup qualification rounds. (Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

"I guess we had a couple of days to think about it and all our focus was on today and what we could control in our destiny," he said.

"We did that by getting the win, but it probably won't be enough to get us through."

Qualification always looked wholly unlikely but nobody evidently told the never-say-die de Minaur as he pulled off a marathon victory that Hewitt described as a "great effort".

Australia's gutsy No.1 dug as deep as he always does over three exhausting hours to prevail 7-5 2-6 7-6 (7-2) against his big-hitting Hungarian counterpart Marton Fucsovics.

His win enabled the experienced John Peers and debutant Alex Bolt to then seal the tie in the decisive doubles, as they proved just a little too strong for the returning Piros and Fabian Marozsan, winning 6-3 6-7 (11-13) 6-3 in just over two hours.

With AAP

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