Australia’s Davis Cup future in doubt
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:31
Tennis Australia have confirmed they will not play their Davis Cup tennis tie in India next month as they are worried about the squad’s safety, and now face a potential one-year ban from the competition.
The International Tennis Federation turned down a request to move the Asia/Oceania Zone Group I third-round tie from Chennai, despite Tennis Australia saying India was too dangerous a venue.
“Davis Cup is very important to us but some things are more important than tennis” – Geoff Pollard
“We asked for the tie to be moved because we have major security concerns for the players, particularly during the [Indian] election,” Tennis Australia president Geoff Pollard said. “The ITF decision has left us with no other option. We cannot send the team. It is extremely disappointing. It would be irresponsible of us to send our players into an area of such high risk.
“Davis Cup is very important to us but some things are more important than tennis,” Pollard said.
Indian sports minister Manohar Singh Gill said Australia’s decision was “not justified”, despite the Mumbai attacks in November and an armed assault on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan in March.
“It is very unfortunate, not justified at all. India has never had problems with sports. Chennai hosted a very successful ATP tournament in January,” Gill told the press. “If they still don’t want to come, it is not justified. They will be punished for it, there is nothing India can do about it.”
Australian Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald said he was angry and upset with the ITF. “It is just irresponsible. Surely some thought must be given to the players’ safety? This decision makes no sense. We have worked so hard to get back in to World Group contention, to have it snatched away like this is gut-wrenching.”
Fitzgerald said all the players shared his disappointment but still hoped for an ITF change of heart prior to the May tie. As it stands, Australia will likely face suspension from the 2010 competition and a $100,000 fine.
It could also spell the end of 28-year-old Lleyton Hewitt’s stellar Davis Cup career.
“It could easily happen. He will consider his response but this could spell the end of his Cup career, which would be disappointing,” his agent David Drysdale said. Hewitt has won more Davis Cup singles matches than any other Australian.