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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, November 22, 2019

Reilly Opelka

"The ATP Cup is pathetic," Reilly Opelka said. "I think it's shocking on behalf of the ATP for them to pass that and allow that."

Photo credit: BB&T Atlanta Open Facebook

Serve knock-out artist Reilly Opelka isn't pulling punches on the ATP Cup.

Opelka blasted the ATP Cup, which will debut in Australia in January, as "pathetic", "embarrassing" and "pretty bad for the sport." 

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"Well, the ATP Cup is pathetic," Opelka told the media in Madrid following his loss to Fabio Fognini in Davis Cup Finals Group play. "I think it's shocking on behalf of the ATP for them to pass that and allow that. It's pretty embarrassing, actually.

"It's pretty bad for the sport. It makes it more top-heavy than it already is. For example, I'm [number] 35 in the world. I'm not going to play because I'm the second- or third-highest ranked American, and only the top two guys play."

The ATP will stage its ATP Cup comprised of 24 countries and offering $15 million in prize money and up to 750 ranking points from January 3rd-12th, 2020.

The group stage will be played over six days in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney with the top teams advancing to the final eight in Sydney. 

The 22-year-old Opelka, who won his first ATP title at the New York Open in February, suggests the ATP Cup format penalizes players from nations with multiple Top 50 players and creates potential rankings inequity by providing an extra tournament for participants. 

"It counts as an additional 19th tournament," Opelka said. "So every player gets 18 tournaments on their ranking card. So you have to take your top 18 results, those go for your ranking. Those that play ATP Cup get a 19th. So it's unfair, there's not equal opportunity for everyone.

"For example, Moldova qualified. Moldova qualified. I mean, their No. 1 player is ranked pretty far behind me and their No. 2 player I don't think he's ranked. So that's going to make for, you know, an 0-0 match that's going to be 30 minutes maybe. That's not good for the sport either."

In recent weeks, ATP Player Council president Novak Djokovic has urged the game's governing bodies to consider combining Davis Cup and the new ATP Cup into one mega event—or run the risk of one event's extinction.

"For the sake of tennis, I honestly hope that the conversations are gonna happen again on merging two events into one super event," Djokovic told the media in Shanghai today. "Because I think it's necessary, honestly."

This week, the International Tennis Federation launched its new 18-team, year-end World Cup-style Davis Cup Finals in Madrid  at La Caja Magica. 

Though the United States failed to advance to the quarterfinals, Opelka gave the new Davis Cup Finals format positive reviews— and voiced one complaint.

"I like it. Yeah, I'm a fan of it," Opelka said. "Obviously being from the States tennis is, you know, not popular at all so we're not going to be getting much support. But I like it actually, I like it that you have a winner after, you know. It's easier for fans to follow.

"The only complaint I have is it was really hard to stream. If you want to go Davis Cup, you think you'd want to make it available on more streaming platforms than just Fox Sports 2 in the US, which no one really has. Should have put it on the Tennis Channel. Other than that, I'm a fan of the new format. Maybe making it every two years or every three years would be I think the next step in the right direction."


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