Kyrgios withdrawal paves way for possible Hewitt comeback

Melbourne, March 3 (IANS) Tennis great Lleyton Hewitt could be dragged out of retirement for Australia’s Davis Cup tie against the United States after it was revealed that he would be replacing an ill Nick Kyrgios in the team’s squad on Thursday.

The Australian Davis Cup captain announced the news prior to the unveiling of the tie’s draw here with play to take place at the iconic Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club over the weekend, reports Xinhua.

Hewitt, who retired from professional tennis after the 2016 Australian Open, will be on standby for the squad with Sam Groth to play Kyrgios’ singles matches as well as take part in doubles.

Due to Kyrgios’ illness, of which Hewitt said the 20-year-old could “barely get out of bed”, the second and third day’s nominations are allowed to be changed, meaning Hewitt could make his comeback in Australian colours.

The schedule, released on Thursday, pits Groth against big-serving World No.11 John Isner on Friday morning with Bernard Tomic to play up-and-coming American Jack Sock later in the day.

The doubles pairing of Groth and John Peers will then take on 16-time Grand Slam doubles champions Bob and Mike Bryan on Saturday with the reverse singles fixture – with Tomic to play Isner and Groth to play Sock – to take place on Sunday.

Both Saturday and Sunday’s nominations are listed as “subject to change”, meaning Hewitt could step in if “it’s in the best interest of the team” and if Groth’s workload – two singles ties and a doubles match – takes its toll.

Hewitt, 35, a two-time Grand Slam winner, said he hasn’t lost too much form since officially retiring in January. If he plays, he will be the first playing-captain Australia has had since Norman Brookes in 1919.

“I (still) hit the ball well. I won’t cramp,” Hewitt said on Thursday.

Kyrgios wasn’t the only Australian in doubt heading into the tie. Tomic has overcome a wrist injury to take his place in the side but said playing on grass would play into his favour, particularly against the young Sock.

“This is the surface to get (Sock) on,” Tomic said when asked about his win-less record against the American.

The Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club is hosting the Davis Cup on grass for the first time in 23 years, with play scheduled to begin on Friday morning.

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