Groth: Davis Cup is ‘officially dead’
Playing for our country as we once knew it is officially dead.
It was called the Davis Cup. It walked like the Davis Cup, quacked like the Davis Cup but what we saw play out over the last week was nothing like the Davis Cup we knew and loved so much.
The Aussies played some brilliant tennis. And they weren't the only ones, with Spain also dishing up some fantastic tennis to take out the title.
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When you get Spain winning in Madrid - led by Rafael Nadal - it was always going to look amazing.
But the reality is, Australia was playing in front of 300-odd people.
The format was disastrous.
The Australian team looked to work together harmoniously under Lleyton Hewitt. I've played with him and under him as captain and he is one seriously good operator.
They - including Nick Kyrgios when he injured his collarbone - were really getting around and supporting each other, which is what it's all about, and Alex de Minaur and John Millman gave everything when called upon at the last minute.
As Australians, the 'old' Davis Cup was part of our upbringing.
I remember watching Lleyton come back from two-sets down against Roger Federer to win a Davis Cup semi final, and one of my greatest tennis experiences was coming back from two rubbers down in Darwin in 2015 and it coming down to that last match.
It was playing against the Murray brothers in Glasgow on the Saturday in a doubles match where everything was riding on it, even though there was two singles matches to go on the final day.
The new three-set format has killed that, and even saw some teams throwing their doubles once they were through.
It's sad that the comeback is dead.
The reworked competition now sees a company owned by soccer star Gerard Pique - which has never run a tennis event before - in the drivers' seat.
And the reality is, it was like they were still on their L-plates.
They got lucky this year with some of the names that turned out - being an Olympic year in 2020, players had to play in order to qualify.
That won't happen again for another four years.
Will the big names even go? Four of the top seven players were off playing in exhibition events instead.
As an event, there was a lot of teething issues. From broadcasting problems, to issues with the stats on the website and things seemed to be happening on the fly with a lot of little stuff-ups for an event that is the showpiece of team tennis and playing for your nation.
They've even already done the draws for next year, giving wildcards to Serbia and France. How? Yes, they obviously want Novak Djokovic there, but how can you guarantee a wildcard to a country 12 months out? How do they know what will play out over the next year?
That's like doing the 2021 Australian Open draw now.
It seems ridiculous.
The solution? That doesn't seem so simple.
The name must be changed, yes - the complete feel of the event was gone and to have simply stuck the banner of "Davis Cup" on this completely new event was an insult.
Let's stop trying to call it something that it's not.
But beyond that, I'm not so sure.
You just wonder whether they're moving towards a World Cup of tennis that will be played every four years. It wouldn't be the worst concept.
A Davis Cup final should never be at a neutral venue, we know that much.
Fed Cup's going the same way next year, in April - a one-week format where we're not going to get the drama that we had in Perth a fortnight ago.
Let's just hope there's meetings and changes happening to the format right now to ensure our players - and representing Australia in the highest-honour team environment - are protected.