Liked older Davis Cup format better, says Italy captain Barazzutti
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Liked older Davis Cup format better, says Italy captain Barazzutti

Italy Davis Cup captain Corrado Barazzutti switched from sounding stoic about the absence of top-ranked singles player Fabio Fognini to sceptical when asked about the new format of The World Cup of Tennis that turns 119 this year

tennis Updated: Jan 28, 2019 23:52 IST
Davis Cup,India vs Italy,India vs Italy Davis Cup
Italy's Marco Cecchinato and Simone Bolelli during a training session ahead of their Davis Cup match against India, in Kolkata.(AP)

Italy Davis Cup captain Corrado Barazzutti switched from sounding stoic about the absence of top-ranked singles player Fabio Fognini to sceptical when asked about the new format of The World Cup of Tennis that turns 119 this year.

“This is the formula and we play this one. That is the decision that the ITF and somebody else has taken,” said Barazzutti, 65, speaking to the media after getting the first feel of the Calcutta South Club grass courts on Monday.

But by his admission Barazzutti, member of the only Italian team to have won the Davis Cup in 1976, is old school. “I love the other formula,” he said.

“Coming from different era, Davis Cup was much better in the past playing best-of-five sets. It’s like changing a (Grand) Slam. You make a Slam best-of-three (sets) and you play one week only. You think it’s the same? Everything has changed and it’s going fast. There is money too and that’s important even if I don’t think the best players play for money.

“I don’t think (Roger) Federer plays Wimbledon, (Rafael) Nadal plays (at) Roland Garros and (Novak) Djokovic plays Flushing Meadows for the money. The money doesn’t change the Davis Cup for the better.”

After a new 25-year $3 billion deal with investment group Kosmos, founded by Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique, the finals will be played in Madrid this November with 18 teams divided into six groups of three each. The group toppers along with two best second teams will qualify for the knockout quarterfinals. The total prize pool is $20 million with the winners getting over $2 million, according to reports.

Also read: Davis Cup: India not underdog, it will be tough match, says Italy captain Barazzutti

At the venue for the India-Italy qualifying tie on February 1 and 2 that is steeped in tradition, Barazzutti sounded like someone shoehorned into modern times. So the man whose career-highest ranking of No. 7 came in August 1978 said he didn’t know how effective doing away with the home-and-away format would be.

The Italy captain said world No. 13 Fognini didn’t allow for this tie in his schedule. “We respect his decision.” Barazzutti said he is happy with the squad he has got. In Marco Cecchinato, 26, they have a world No. 18. Italy are also likely to field world No. 35 Andreas Seppi in the second singles.

That said Italy would have to get used to the surface, one described by Indian players, who practised in the morning, as slower than the one they trained on at another club while preparing for this tie.

Like India captain Mahesh Bhupathi, Barazzutti said rankings don’t matter here. “It is important for the confidence but there are many players who play Davis Cup much better than tournaments.”

So, after mentioning that Italy’s Matteo Berrettini (world No. 54) played India’s top singles player Prajnesh Gunneswaran (world No. 102) --- the Italian won the round-of-32 tie 6-3, 6-4 in Chengdu, China, last September --- Barazzutti didn’t agree that India are underdogs. They are at home, playing on a surface that suits them and they are good, he said. “I think it will be a tough match.”

First Published: Jan 28, 2019 23:46 IST