ANGRY tennis fans claim Gerard Pique’s new-look Davis Cup is already “killing” the famous tournament.
The Barcelona defender’s World Cup-style tournament opened in Madrid on Monday to huge swathes of empty seats after being turned into a season-ending, 18-nation shootout.
But the new format has “sold the soul” of tradition and the Davis Cup “doesn’t exist anymore,” according to critics on social media.
One fan tweeted: “Davis cup is DEAD !!! @3gerardpique killed it” and another labelled it the “Pique Cup”.
The Spain and ex-Manchester United star Pique hit back when another tennis follower posted: “Not the biggest crowd…yet. 15 people sitting on this side of the stands.”
The 32-year-old replied: “Are you sure there are just 15??” – and added four emojis of crying with laughter.
But fans pointed out the reference to low attendance was based on “missing local people” – not supporters of the teams involved.
Legend Roger Federer is among those absent as Switzerland failed to qualify.
SHAME ON ITF
Britain, though, landed a wildcard and a favourable draw for their team of Andy Murray, Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund, Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski.
Two-time Wimbledon champ Murray wants the tournament to be given “a chance” and is “open to change”.
But Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt protested strongly earlier this year.
The 2000 US Open winner said: “We’re getting run by a Spanish football player. That’s like me coming out and making changes to the Champions League.”
Pique and his newly-formed Kosmos Tennis agreed to pump in 3billion dollars – around 2.7bn – for the tournament over the next 215 years.
But so far the reaction on social media has been sceptical at best.
One fan said: “Shame on ITF, all voters, Piqu and players who supported this change…”
that brought he response: “They will try to sell it as success. Maybe because of a full main stadium. But thats not what Davis Cup was about. Sad to see.”