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Spanish La Liga to sponsor new Davis Cup finals

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Davis Cup

Spanish football top flight La Liga will sponsor tennis’ Davis Cup finals under the tournament’s new guise led by Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique’s group, the ITF announced on Thursday.

In an unusual cross-sport move, La Liga will promote the Davis Cup during broadcasts of its live matches.

“The cross-sport partnership with La Liga is innovative for the Davis Cup,” said ITF David Haggerty in a statement. “This will widen our reach to not only tennis fans but other sports enthusiasts.”

The 119-year-old Davis Cup competition has traditionally been structured around a 16-nation World Group, contested over four weekends during the year, but will now switch to an 18-team finals, with the inaugural edition in Madrid in November.

On Wednesday, Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt criticised Pique, whose investment group Kosmos proposed the planned changes.

“I haven’t been a supporter since they first flagged the possible changes,” Hewitt said ahead of his team’s qualifying tie this week against Bosnia.

“I think having the finals in one place is ridiculous. I personally don’t think all the top will play.

“Now we’re being run by a Spanish football player… that’s like me coming out asking to change things for the Champions League — it’s ridiculous.”

The qualifying ties start on Friday, with the 12 winners to join the six automatic qualifiers — Croatia, France, , Spain, Argentina and Britain — in November’s finals.

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