Dear journalists and tennis fans,
Throughout this summer, and in particular during the two weeks I was at Wimbledon, countless people have approached me to ask me the same questions: What do you think about the new Davis Cup? Would you vote in favour of the changes? Is it true that the new format may be played in Madrid? How would that affect the Mutua Madrid Open?
I have given the same answer to all the people who have asked me these questions. But now I would like to do so publicly by means of this correspondence and to make my opinion known to the media and the fans, who are the ones that really matter.
As you all know, I will always champion the Davis Cup; throughout my life I have given my all for Spain, playing in 46 ties, in which I had the joy of winning 92 matches. Nothing would have made me happier in my career than to have won one of the finals we reached in ’65 and ’67, years when left everything on the court in Australia, or to have won in one of the editions in which I proudly captained the team. I am still just as passionate about the Davis Cup. In fact, this year I did not think twice about making the trip to Marbella and Valencia to cheer on and support Spain in each tie. And I can say that the scenes I witnessed in the Plaza de Toros in Valencia (and I have seen many) were magical and unforgettable. I would recommend them to anyone who said that the Davis cup was dead.
Having said this, it is true that with the passing of time I have noticed that the competition has been changing and evolving and I have always been the first to say that the Davis Cup needed some kind of change, something I have said repeatedly. In fact, the current competition format is different to when I played. That said, I believe that the revolution that is being considered could undermine the competition’s DNA and finish off an event that has helped this sport establish itself and grow on a local and global scale. Hopefully changes are made that help strengthen the role of the Davis Cup, but I would like to ask that they be made as transparently as possible and for the good of tennis, not purely for economic interests.
What is clear is that some of the magic of playing at home will be lost and, according to what I have heard, the venues will be itinerant. So, when I am asked if I would like the new Davis Cup to come to Madrid, my answer is that “it depends”. Almost two decades ago I fought very hard to bring a first-class tournament to Madrid and during these 17 years I have worked my fingers to the bone to maintain the Mutua Madrid Open and to make it into one of the best tennis events in the world. That is why, if the arrival of a future Davis Cup in Spain means that the authorities commit to this new event and put the continuity of the Mutua Madrid Open at risk, my answer is that I am not in favour of it. The reason is very simple. This new Davis Cup would come to Madrid for a couple of years and then would move to a city in Asia, the U.S.A. or somewhere else on the planet. The Davis Cup in Madrid would be temporary, transient.
On the other hand, the Mutua Madrid Open now belongs to all the citizens of Madrid and of Spain, and we would like to stay in this city that I love so much, to continue growing and to be able to give Madrid the global footprint it deserves. Throughout my life I have watched other great events grow spectacularly and I am very proud of how the Mutua Madrid Open has been up to the challenge. But we cannot rest on our laurels because, unfortunately, I have also seen a lot of tournaments disappear or have to move abroad due to a lack of solid support from their cities and institutions. A boost in quality is required and now is the time. In this regard, I am very happy about the reaction of the political parties and the Madrid City Council. They all see and value the importance of the tournament and I am convinced that we will shortly conclude an agreement allowing the Mutua Madrid Open to remain in Spain for many more years.
Likewise, I strongly believe that the tennis officials who vote in Orlando on 16 August will do so in search of the best for the present and future of tennis. I am sure that all of the federations will decide on their vote having thought about it at length. Some will agree with me and others will want to vote in favour of these changes. I understand all thoughts on the issue and that not everyone thinks the same as I do. But I had to put my opinion out there. After decades of competing in this wonderful competition that I so love, I could not remain quiet. The Davis Cup has been (and is!) part of my life and it would break my heart see it lose its essence. Long live the Davis Cup.