Reilly Opelka has stoked the rivalry between the Davis Cup and the new ATP Cup team competition, describing the latter event as “pathetic”.
Opelka, the current world No 36 and US No 3, was speaking after the US team’s exit from the revamped, week-long Davis Cup Finals in Madrid. The US defeated Italy 2-1 in a match that did not finish until 4am, but still missed out on a quarter-final place.
“Well, the ATP Cup is pathetic. I think it’s shocking on behalf of the ATP for them to pass that and allow that,” Opelka told reporters. “It’s pretty embarrassing, actually. It’s pretty bad for the sport. It makes it more top-heavy than it already is.”
The 22-year-old also attacked the format of the new tournament, which will take place in Australia this January. Only the top two singles players from any country will take part, meaning Opelka will likely miss out to John Isner and Taylor Fritz.
“I’m [No 36] in the world,” Opelka said. “I’m not going to play because I’m the second or third-highest ranked American, and only the top two guys play.” Opelka added that ranking points should not be awarded for the tournament. “It’s unfair, there’s not equal opportunity for everyone.”
“For example, Moldova qualified. I mean, their No 1 player [world No 42 Radu Albot] 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 an 0-0 match that’s going to be 30 minutes maybe. That’s not good for the sport.” The current Moldovan No 2, Alexander Cosbinov, has a ranking of No 817.
The new 24-nation ATP Cup has divided opinion among top players. Novak Djokovic has suggested that the two events should merge to ease an already crowded schedule. “Looking long-term, I don’t think that the two events can coexist six weeks apart,” the world No 2 said on Wednesday. “It’s just a bit too congested.”
Opelka lost both of his singles rubbers in Madrid, going down 7-6 (5), 7-6 (7) to Vasek Pospisil in the 2-1 defeat to Canada, and losing 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3 to Fabio Fognini. The US rallied to win the Group F match with Italy, but lost out to Argentina based on sets won.