01-22-2014, 11:22 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Re: Captain Clément in Charge - Davis Cup
and this news on your opponents for the tie will get you shaking in your boots.... (not)
Australian captain Pat Rafter has named teenage trio Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jordan Thompson in his Davis Cup team to face France in the World Group first round.
With Bernard Tomic out with a hip injury, Rafter is banking on youth to complement the experience of long-time spearhead Lleyton Hewitt and doubles player Chris Guccione.
Kyrgios, 18, and Kokkinakis, 17, both reached the second round of the Australian Open last week, while 19-year-old Thompson won the wildcard play-off to qualify for the Melbourne Park major and will travel with the squad as the back-up player.
There are also whispers Rafter is considering using both the so-called Special Ks in the day-one singles and keeping Hewitt fresh for the doubles and the first reverse singles against French number one Richard Gasquet.
But I think we have a realistic chance of an upset - but it will be an upset if we do win.
"Lleyton will definitely play doubles, 100 per cent," Rafter said.
"We think that's a pretty critical tie. Normally always is."
AUDIO: Media Call: Pat Rafter (ABC News)
Whichever way the skipper goes, Australia will be at long odds to topple the powerful line-up of Gasquet, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils and Julien Benneteau.
"Now, they are a great team. On paper, we're certainly losing," Rafter said.
"But I think we have a realistic chance of an upset - but it will be an upset if we do win.
"We still believe we have a chance. These kids, they're pretty exceptional in many ways. There is an element of blooding them into the team as well, no doubt about that, and give them that exposure.
"I think they'll deal with it really well. I think they're going to love the atmosphere and the occasion.
"You never know, Davis Cup has a tradition of throwing up some upsets. When you've got youth and energy on your side, you have passion; you always have a chance."
While Rafter had little option but to turn to youth, French counterpart Arnaud Clement had an embarrassment of riches at his disposal, with France's top eight players all ranked higher than Hewitt, the world number 43.
Like Rafter, though, Clement knows anything can happen in the Davis Cup cauldron.
"It is not about the rankings. It is Davis Cup. It is France versus Australia. It is Lleyton Hewitt, it is Pat Rafter and some very talented young players," he said.
"The last time we played it was in a final for the Davis Cup."
That was back in 2001 in Melbourne when Hewitt and Rafter lost the pivotal doubles rubber before an elbow injury prevented Rafter from backing up to contest the decisive reverse singles match.
Instead, Wayne Arthurs was thrown into the hot seat and lost to Nicolas Escude and ended the final in tears.
The tie will be played indoors on clay in La Roche-sur-Yon in western France from January 31 to February 2.
The tie is Australia's first back in the elite 16-nation World Group since 2007.