The new-look Davis Cup gets underway on Monday, with Australia kicking off their tournament against Colombia in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Some of the biggest names in men’s tennis have jetted into Madrid for the controversial, new-look Davis Cup, starting on Monday.
The world-cup-style tournament, which is bankrolled by Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique’s Kosmos company, has been met with some lukewarm reactions with Roger Federer, Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Murray among those who’ve expressed scepticism.
The week-long event replaces the traditional home and away tie format which had been in place for 119 years.
Kosmos acquired the competition’s commercial rights from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in a $US3 billion ($A4.4 billion) deal over 25 years.
Pique, who’s won over 100 caps for Spain and was part of the 2010 World Cup-winning team, has vowed to restore the tournament to its former glory.
“I just want to bring one of the most important tennis competitions to the top again,” Pique said.
“Davis Cup is the only tennis event where fans support countries instead of players.
“From a financial perspective, this new format is more attractive for sponsors as the event will be broadcast worldwide with 18 countries competing.”
The tournament will see 18 nations competing across six groups of three with the winner of each and the two best runners-up, based on the number of sets and games won, qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Matches will be played over three sets instead of five with the first singles rubber contested by each country’s No.2-ranked player before the No.1’s take to the court ahead of the doubles match.
Ten of the world’s top-15 players will be in action with only Swiss great Federer, Austria’s Dominic Thiem, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, whose teams did not qualify, not taking park.
Germany’s Alexander Zverev, who opposes the new format is also absent.
Australia, who have won the Davis Cup 28 times and been a runner-up on 19 occasions, will field a team made up Alex de Minaur, Nick Kyrgios, John Millman, Jordan Thompson and doubles specialist John Peers.
Hewitt’s men will open their tournament against Colombia on Tuesday (0300 Wednesday AEDT) and then face Belgium on Wednesday (0400 Thursday).
Should they progress as Group D winners Australia will play the team that tops Group F which contains Italy, Canada and the USA.
Should they qualify as one of the two best runners-up it will pair them against the winner of Group A (France, Japan, Serbia) or Group B (Croatia, Spain, Russia).
Davis Cup groups
France, Serbia, Japan
Croatia, Spain, Russia
Argentina, Germany, Chile
Belgium, Australia, Colombia
Great Britain, Kazakhistan, Netherlands
United States, Italy, Canada