Grass court tennis returns to Kooyong for Australia-US Davis Cup tie

Melbourne, March 2 (IANS) Grass court tennis returns to Melbourne’s iconic Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club this weekend, when Australia takes on the United States in its first round Davis Cup tie here.

It will be the first time in 23 years that Australia has played Davis Cup tennis on grass at Kooyong — in 1993 the Australians easily won their first round tie against the US, and they’ll be hoping to emulate that result when the match-up begins on Friday, reports Xinhua.

Despite the build-up, Australia’s hopes rest on the fitness of young guns Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios — both of whom are in a race to be fit before the tournament kicks off. However, Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt has said both men will be taking part in the singles.

Both the Australians showing career-best form and having stellar starts to the 2016 season, but Kyrgios, 20 and Tomic, 23, are battling concerns heading into the grass court tie, where they will face big-serving world No.11 John Isner, and up-and-coming world No. 24 Jack Sock.

Hewitt downplayed talk of Kyrgios suffering a back and hip injury, instead telling the media the 20-year-old was fighting a virus in an attempt to be fit by Friday.

“(Kyrgios) just had a bit of a virus, so at the moment he’s just taking it easy and just trying to get over that 100 percent and then he’ll be right to go,” Hewitt said.

“Obviously I didn’t want him around the other boys right at the moment if he’s a bit infectious as well. It’s kind of precautionary more than anything. He’ll be ready to go.”

Meanwhile Tomic told the press that his niggling wrist injury shouldn’t be too much of an issue against the Americans, talking up the chance of his matches displaying shorter rallies and big serves in an attempt to negate the risk of further aggravating the injury.

Tomic and Kyrgios will feel well at home on grass — both men have posted their best performance at a Grand Slam — a quarter-final berth — on the grass of Wimbledon in London, with the balls to be used in Melbourne imported from the UK for use in the tie.

Meanwhile grass is statistically Sock’s worst surface — he wins just over 55 percent of his matches on the real stuff, while Isner is better suited, winning 62.2 percent of his matches on grass.

Negating any advantage the Australians might have on the surface in Melbourne, both Americans hold a positive head-to-head record against Tomic, with Sock having won all here of their encounters, while Isner has won their only meeting.

Against Kyrgios, Isner has won both of their encounters, while the young Australian beat Sock in their only encounter at the Savannah Challenger in 2014.

In the double, Sam Groth and John Peers have the mammoth task of undoing 16-time Grand Slam champions Mike and Bob Bryan – -but will be encouraged by recent form from the Americans which has been less than stellar.

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