'Abysmal': Aussie tennis great savages new-look Davis Cup

Australian tennis legend Todd Woodbridge has taken aim at the Davis Cup, describing the controversial new-look tournament as "abysmal".

A brain child of Barcelona and Spain football superstar Gerard Pique, the revamped Davis Cup has drawn mixed reviews from the tennis world.

The inaugural 18-nation edition won by Spain in Madrid's La Caja Magica, where it will also be staged next year, was largely a success despite some ties struggling to attract crowds and a schedule that has resulted in a run of extremely late finishes.

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“The competition is an absolute success,” Pique told broadcasters Movistar.

“The most important thing is that it has a soul … The players have reactions that they don’t even have in the Grand Slams.”

Pique has been a key figure in changes to the Davis Cup through his investment company Kosmos, which has pledged $US3 billion ($A4.4 billion) over 25 years.

“I think this is the base and from there it will grow a lot. Things are going to be retouched, obviously. The issue of the schedules must be retouched. But that’s what happens to events when the format is changed.”

Woodbridge, however, offered a much more scathing assessment of the tournament, despite conceding the quality of the tennis was excellent.

“The tennis itself has been brilliant, the organisation has been abysmal,” Woodbridge said on Sports Sunday.

“Everything from IT issues, to playing matches that finish at 4am, and then today the ITF go, ‘Well we’re going to put in more wildcards.’

“They’ve given wildcards this week, for 12 months’ time. You’ve got to ask the question, how can you do that? It looks like they’re guaranteeing Novak Djokovic a spot for next year … ‘We want you back so we’re going to guarantee you can be there, you don’t have to play the qualifying match earlier in the year’.

Todd Woodbridge has been critical of the new-look Davis Cup. Pic: Getty

“And then France have also been put in, so you’ve got to ask the question, the President of the ITF is also French and I’m sure he’s had a big influence in that discussion. They’ve got so many things to fix if it’s going to be a success next year.

“The biggest issue was crowd. We (Australia) played our first match with about 400 people watching, and that’s a great disappointment.”

Perhaps the biggest issue facing Pique and Davis Cup organisers is the ATP Cup that starts in Australia in six weeks.

It will involve 24 nations playing over three Australian cities just before the start of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Pique acknowledges that having two similar events so close to each other in the calendar is not viable.

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He said he hoped a change in leadership at the ATP, where Italian Andrea Gaudenzi will replace Chris Kermode as chairman, will help break the impasse.

"In the last year, we've tried to sit down with the ATP, obviously the situation with the former president wasn't ideal to sit down and try to arrive to a deal," Pique, sitting alongside ITF president David Haggerty, said at a news conference on Sunday at La Caja Magica.

"Now there will be some changes, so we are expecting that so we can sit down again. I think that in the future, ITF and Kosmos, we are really open to sit down with the ATP and try to arrive to a deal, to make a unique competition, a super event of two weeks and try to find the best part in the calendar.

Spain were the inaugural champions of the new Davis Cup. Pic: Getty

"I think Novak (Djokovic) and Rafa (Nadal), the No.1 and No.2 in the world right now, have expressed that they want the same, they want just one event, and if it's possible, to put it in September for two weeks. Since day one, we expressed we want to arrive to this deal.

"It makes no sense to have right now two different competitions that are very similar."

The obstacle to Kosmos and the ITF having their wish is the Laver Cup competition, played in September and partly owned by Roger Federer's management company Team8 and Tennis Australia, which has been officially sanctioned by the ATP.

Twenty-times Grand Slam champion Federer has criticised Pique's involvement in the Davis Cup and has proven himself an astute businessman, who will fight to secure his pet project.

"They have, or he has the Laver Cup and, obviously, it's his baby, his competition, and he wants to protect it and obviously to create as big as possible this exhibition," Pique added.

"I totally understand. But we will try to put Davis Cup in another level because we are talking about 119 years of history.

"You cannot compare both events. But we will try to do the best we can for our competition to make it as big as possible."

With agencies