Delays, conditions test Aus Davis Cup team
The tie is still two days away but Australia’s Davis Cup team is already facing its fair share of challenges ahead of the must-win showdown in Uzbekistan.
Pat Rafter’s squad has arrived in the north-eastern Uzbek city of Namangan, but not before an arduous journey hit by travel delays.
A team featuring Bernard Tomic and Lleyton Hewitt is also battling tough conditions in the central Asian country, but team captain Rafter says there will be “no excuses” for the Asia-Oceania Zone second-round tie, starting Friday.
Australia’s team was training in Munich this week and had hired a private jet to simplify the journey to Namangan, which is usually only serviced by air via St Petersburg, Russia.
But there were still difficulties as they faced a frustrating 12-hour wait in Dubai, spending almost a full day in transit before arriving in Uzbekistan late on Tuesday night.
“It was a bit of a rough journey,” Rafter told AAP.
“It’s not ideal, but it is what it is and you’ve got to learn to adapt.
“You’ve just got to adjust, it’s part and parcel of travelling around to play in other places.”
Things haven’t been much easier since the team has arrived.
They’re staying in a two-star hotel and have been advised not to put their heads under water in the shower, instead using a bottle of water to avoid getting sick.
“Which is not much fun when it’s cold,” Rafter said.
The team has its own chef preparing food as a precaution, and Rafter insisted security was not a concern.
“The people are really nice people and we feel very safe here,” he said.
“We’re here now and there’s no excuses. We’ve got to get the job done.”
The squad had its first hit-out on the clay of the Pahlavon Sport Complex on Wednesday and Rafter said the court was adequate.
He admits Australia face a tough task against the Denis Istomin-led Uzbekistan, who are unbeaten in six Davis Cup ties on the court, but says his team has a good opportunity to win.
The winner of the tie will advance to the World Group playoffs in September.
Tomic and Marinko Matosevic are likely to play singles on Friday, with Hewitt and Ebden teaming up for doubles on Saturday.