Gerard Pique's World Cup of Tennis proposal backed by top players

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have all voiced their support for a new World Cup-style tennis tournament presented this week by Barcelona and Spain soccer star Gerard Pique.

The defender spent time at the Madrid Open this week and met with ATP chief Chris Kermode, among others, to talk about his hopes of creating a 16-team knockout competition that would take place in one location over a 10-day period.

It's a proposal that the game's top players have said they would support.

"For many years they've been static," 14-time Grand Slam winner Nadal said of the International Tennis Federation and its inability to change old formats.

"They have not moved with the times, but there's a new president now [David Haggerty was elected in September 2015] and a new board, and I'm sure they're going to try new things. It's a fantastic initiative -- I think the fans and the circuit need an event like this.

"I don't know Gerard, nor have I spoke with him, and I don't think he will be the boss of the project, but I hope that his proposal is taken forward."

Djokovic has spoken with the Spain international, although he was careful not to give too much away about the topic of their talks.

"I've spoken with [Pique] many times about some good initiatives, but some of them are confidential," the Serbian said. "It's fantastic that a football star like Pique would get involved with tennis. He's a great guy, and I have a lot of respect for him.

"[The proposal] is something that would only bring positives. There are ideas and projects, but tennis is really complicated; there are lots of tournaments, institutions and associations. In any case, all this is really good for the sport."

World No. 1 Murray also confirmed that he's exchanged messages with Pique and backed the tournament.

"I think it's a really exciting idea," he said. "If it comes off, I think it would be a really good thing for tennis."

The Davis Cup is the only similar event on the tennis circuit at the moment, but the world's best players often withdraw because of the format of the competition to focus on their preparation for Grand Slam events.

Three-day matches are currently spread over weekends in February, April, September and November. Nadal, Djokovic and Murray have all won the Davis Cup, but all three have also regularly pulled out of matches to target other objectives.

"I don't know what the future of the Davis Cup will look like, but there is definitely something radically that has to change," Djokovic said.

But Nadal said Pique's plans shouldn't be seen as bad news for tennis' only current team competition. "It's not in opposition to the Davis Cup, which is an important competition, which I've had the luck to compete in for many years."

Pique, one of Spain's most decorated and beloved players, helped La Roja take the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship in 2012. He has won the Champions League four times, three with Barcelona and one with Manchester United, and helped United to the Premier League title in 2008.