Aussies eye grass court in Davis Cup
May 12, 2010
Just like the glory days, Australia will likely opt for a grass court for their Davis Cup World Group playoff against Belgium.
Australian captain John Fitzgerald breathed a huge sigh of relief after finally receiving some luck in the draw for the September playoffs, getting the home court advantage rather than another dreaded assignment in Europe or South America.
Fitzgerald's team will be striving to return to the elite 16-nation World Group for the first time since 2007 when, ironically, Belgium upset Australia 3-2 in their first-round tie in Liege.
Fitzgerald said while revenge wouldn't be Australia's motivation, he vowed to make life as difficult as possible for Belgium, who used a slow indoor claycourt surface for the two countries' most recent encounter.
"I'm not a vindictive guy but I'm pleased that we're at home. It's going to make a good deal of difference," Fitzgerald told AAP.
"I don't think we'll play on clay. I would think it would be either hard court or probably grass.
"But we don't have to make that decision for quite a while, so we're going to go through the grasscourt season, see what they play like on it, see what our guys play like on it and make an educated decision.
"There's no rush."
Australia whitewashed Japan 5-0 on a portable clay court in Brisbane last weekend, but Fitzgerald said choosing from surfaces that Lleyton Hewitt had won his two grand slam titles on would be wiser against European opposition.
Like Australia with Hewitt and Peter Luczak, Belgium only have two players in the world's top 100 - 58th-ranked Olivier Rochus and No.80 Xavier Malisse.
Fitzgerald welcomed Australia's change of fortune at the draw ceremony in London.
His team had to contend with Novak Djokovic-led Serbia in Belgrade and then Fernando Gonzalez-inspired Chile on the red dirt of South America for their two most recent World Group playoffs.
Last year, Australia - 28 times Davis Cup champions - boycotted a scheduled playoff in India because of security concerns.
"It's certainly nice to have one at home," Fitzgerald said.
"We thought we were due for one, so it's a bit of a result for us.
"There's no guarantees, but at least we've got a winnable match that we'll prepare for and on our surface and at least it's in our own back yard.
"It's going to make a big difference."
In the other World Group playoffs, Columbia will host the top-seeded United States, Austria visit Israel, Sweden are home to Italy, India entertain Brazil, Switzerland travel to Kazakhstan, Ecuador host Romania and South Africa venture to Germany.
The playoffs will take place from September 17-19, the weekend after the US Open final.