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Ian Chadband

Woodforde: Aust should back Davis Cup bid

Mark Woodforde says Tennis Australia should bid to host Davis Cup group or finals weeks. (Julian Smith/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Doubles great Mark Woodforde says tennis chiefs should bid to bring Davis Cup tennis back to Australia following the success of Lleyton Hewitt's team in making the final in Malaga.

Under the Cup's new format, it's almost certain home fans won't next year get a chance to salute the first Australian outfit to reach the final for 19 years - ironically, because of the team's unexpected success in Spain.

The two finalists - Australia and victors Canada - have earned an automatic place in next September's group stages, thus bypassing February's qualifying ties which may have been the one realistic chance for Australian fans to see them in home action in 2023.

The group stage venues have yet to be decided but the final will again be in Malaga next November, following the most successful edition yet of the week-long, knock-out format.

But Woodforde, one-half of the great 'Woodies' doubles team with Todd Woodbridge and now chairman of the International Tennis Federation's Davis Cup Committee, believes the onus is on Australian tennis chiefs to bring back the World Cup event.

"Tennis Australia should step up and put in a bid for hosting," the 17-time grand slam doubles champion and former Olympic gold medallist told AAP in Malaga.

"Like any country, if they're keen on hosting and welcoming a group stage or even the finals, it's open that they can.

"I know the value of playing at home is very dear. All the three finals I played were unfortunately all away, so I never got to ever have that joy of playing at home. But that possibility is there for Australian players."

David Haggerty, the ITF President, was asked by AAP if he was worried the Davis Cup format worked against Australia, the 28-times champions, in that their success meant no home tie in 2023.

"Why can't they host? I mean, it's not unforeseen that Australia could host the finals one day. Certainly a group stage as well," he responded.

"We know how strong Australia is. Has great Davis Cup DNA. So, they are available to host in September if they put in a bid through the process."

That's all very well in theory, but Hewitt is sceptical that the group stages or finals would be accommodated near the end of a long season for players who wouldn't want another draining trek to the other side of the world.

"I don't like the chances of this final series ever being played in Australia," admitted former Davis Cup-winning player Hewitt, who's a long-standing critic of the tinkering with the old traditional format of home-and-away, five-sets-a-rubber ties.

He was also unimpressed last week by the fact the final and the Australians' quarter-final win over the Netherlands didn't feature a doubles match.

"I felt disappointed for the Dutch team. They've got two quality doubles who do all the hard work all year to come and perform in the so-called biggest stage of the year, and they don't get the chance to play a match.

"I thought that's a failing in this concept the whole time, and no-one is listening.

"So I can talk 'til I'm blue in the face, but nothing's changing right now. Certain people put band-aids on problems, it's not fixing the problem.

"I came up playing with the best doubles team in the world, the Woodies. I can't imagine, for the life of me, that they come into this format and don't get to play a match? I don't think that's right."

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