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Andy and fellow big hitters back Pique's World Cup proposal


By Eleanor Crooks

Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have all offered support to plans for a tennis World Cup backed by Barcelona star Gerard Pique.

It is reported that Pique, who is a big tennis fan, met with ATP officials in Madrid this week to discuss the idea, and he already has some powerful allies.

World No.1 Murray, who turns 30 on Monday, said: "I've tried to speak to him a couple of times. We've exchanged messages but we haven't actually spoken in person or on the phone about it.

"Doing new things in tennis is never easy, there's always a lot of obstacles. But I think that it's a really exciting idea. If it comes off I think it would be a very, very good thing. Tennis needs an event like that."

The proposed tournament will be of concern to the International Tennis Federation as, if it comes off, it could prove a threat to the struggling Davis Cup.

The leading players have increasingly shown a lack of commitment to the historic competition and have been frustrated by a perceived reluctance on the ITF's part to change the format.

Pique's idea is to have an event played at one venue over 10 days, which would impact less on the schedules of the leading players than the Davis Cup, which is held over four weekends throughout the year.

Djokovic has long voiced support for such a structure in Davis Cup, and he said: "I spoke to Gerard. He's a great guy and I have tremendous respect for what he has achieved in his football career.

"To see one of the football greats coming to the tennis world and trying to support it personally, but also in some structural business way, can only bring positives. Hopefully it's going to come to life."

Nadal is hoping the proposals will encourage the ITF to change the Davis Cup.

A change in format for singles matches from best-of-five sets to best-of-three is expected to be approved at the ITF's AGM on August 4 but that is the only imminent alteration.

ITF president David Haggerty is keen to move the final to a neutral venue but that is not popular among the players.

Nadal said: "I have had great moments in the Davis Cup. The ITF haven't adapted to the new days. They haven't looked for solutions. I'm sure they will try to do things. I think that's what we need."

This year will see a new team competition in the Laver Cup, backed by Roger Federer and Tennis Australia. Staged in Prague from September 22-24, the Ryder Cup-style event will pit a European team featuring Federer and Nadal against a rest of the world side.

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