Fernando Verdasco has defended the prospect of the Davis Cup being held in Abu Dhabi, asserting that not all major sporting events need to be held in countries with 'tradition'.
Verdasco, the tournament director for the ongoing 2021 Davis Cup Finals, also feels the changes being made to the competition should be accepted by everyone as there is "no other choice."
The 121-year-old team event is reportedly set to move to Abu Dhabi on a five-year deal starting from 2022, with confirmation expected this week. The proposed switch has been heavily criticized by Australian doubles legend Todd Woodbridge, who predicted the event will no longer exist in five years.
In an interview with Eurosport, Verdasco expressed his view that sporting tradition should not determine where sports tournaments, including the Davis Cup, are held.
"Let's see, I live in Doha, maybe I'm not the right person to answer (laughs)," Verdasco said. "They are countries that are betting a lot on sports, be it football, tennis or Formula One. I honestly do not think that everything should be held in places with tradition, all countries have the right to have competitions such as the Davis Cup, a World Cup or a Big prize."
The three-time Davis Cup champion then declared that he felt the switch to a 16-team event in 2022 from the current 18-team format would be positive.
"I know that there have been many comments that it will be in Abu Dhabi, although it is not official yet", Verdasco continued. "What is a reality is that it will go from being a competition of 16 teams and not 18. And instead of groups of three, they will be groups of four. Now it remains to be seen how many host venues there will be, apart from where the final phase is played. I like these changes."
"We will all have to get used to it, there is no other choice" - Fernando Verdsaco on Davis Cup changes
Fernando Verdasco then stressed that people have not accepted the recent changes to the Davis Cup because they are accustomed to the previous format. The Spaniard singled out World No. 3 Alexander Zverev, who has not featured in the 2019 or 2021 editions since the event switched to a Finals format, as an example.
"Many people are used to the old tradition and that is why they do not approve of this new format," Verdasco said. "Alexander Zverev, for example, is one of those who has said that he dreamed of winning the Davis Cup for a lifetime, but things evolve, just as there was no Hawkeye before and now there is. We will all have to get used to it, there is no other choice."
The 38-year-old then explained why he thinks the new format is beneficial to players from a scheduling perspective.
"From my point of view, and it is not because I am now the tournament director, I think the change is quite positive for the player, due to calendar issues and possible injuries," Verdasco added. "Five months ago I would have answered the same thing."