(March 3, 2016) MELBOURNE, Australia – Lleyton Hewitt, who just retired from professional tennis at his home country’s major in January looks as though his career will continue. Hewitt, the 35-year-old former No. 1, who is making his debut as Australia’s Davis Cup Captain, will be a playing captain due to Nick Kyrgios who has been ill with a virus and can’t participate. Hewitt is officially on standby to play the tie against the United States in the first round of the Davis Cup World Group this weekend to be played at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club.
Hewitt is Australia’s most accomplished Davis Cup player winning 58 of the 78 singles and doubles matches in his career.
“We took him (Nick Kyrgios) through his paces this morning and gave him a little fitness test to see how he pulled up from yesterday, but he just wasn’t fit enough to play this weekend,” Hewitt said. “It’s bad timing for us but it was really out of our hands and the end.”
“The illness is a kind of an unknown a little bit. You just don’t know,” Hewitt said “But obviously before nine o’clock this morning we had to make the best possible decision for the team, and we were dealing with Nick on everything. He wanted to put his hand up and certainly didn’t want to let the team down, and that’s why it was a tough decision for everyone involved.”
The draw for the tie took place in Kooyong on Thursday where Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth and John Peers were officially named to team Australia. Friday will see No. 1 U.S. player John Isner play Groth, followed by Australia’s top player Tomic face Jack Sock. Doubles day on Saturday as the Bryan Brothers are scheduled to play John Peers and Sam Groth. Sundya will be reverse singles – Isner versus Tomic and Groth against Sock.
U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier said he was not shocked to see Hewitt change the team.
“I wouldn’t say we are surprised given that we saw Lleyton practicing this week and Nick’s pretty conspicuous absence,” he said. “It is certainly not something coming to Australia that we were anticipating though. Nick is a very tough player who is on a high now with his results. However, Sam is a very capable grass court player and we won’t take him lightly for one second.
“I am sure that Lleyton will do whatever is best for his team. That’s his role. He is very aware of doing whatever is required to give him the best chance to win. He knows how everyone is feeling with health and length of matches. There are all types of combinations that could bring him to the court. That will be his call and we will be prepared.”
Jack Sock says he’s ready to take on friend Tomic on Friday. “It is going to be a very competitive and fiery match. He has had great results in Davis Cup and this is just my second tie, but we also played each other a few times in the past. It is a different scenario in Davis Cup, but I think the matches in the past will help me with my confidence and how to go about the match. We have always had some close matches and it comes down to a few points here or there. He is definitely playing some great tennis right now with some good results this year.”
Australia and the United States will be meeting for the 46th time. The U.S. team leads 25-20, last competing against the Aussies in the 1999 quarterfinals, when Australia won and went on take the Davis Cup title. The U.S. and Australia are the two leading nations with the most Davis Cup titles, 32 and 28 respectively.
DAY/LOCAL MATCH TIME EVENT DETAILS/PAIRING
Friday, 11:00 a.m. Singles A: John Isner (USA) vs. Sam Groth (AUS)
Singles B: Jack Sock (USA) vs. Bernard Tomic (AUS)
Saturday, 12:00 p.m. Doubles: Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA) vs. Sam Groth/John Peers (AUS)
Sunday, 11:00 a.m. Singles C: John Isner (USA) vs. Bernard Tomic (AUS)
Singles D: Jack Sock (USA) vs. Sam Groth (AUS)