Australia Davis Cup coach says captain Hewitt might play
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Australia Davis Cup coach Jason Stoltenberg has indicated new captain Lleyton Hewitt might play in the first-round tie against the United States this week if a virus-affected Nick Kyrgios withdraws.
If so, it would rank among the shortest ''retirements'' of any sportsperson. Two-time Grand Slam champion Hewitt called it quits after a 20-year career only in late-January during the Australian Open, where he lost in the second round in singles.
''He thought he was retired and he's been hitting more than these guys,'' Stoltenberg said Wednesday at Kooyong.
''It's probably the first time that a captain has actually had to get out and prepare as if he may play. He's a great team man and he'll do whatever he needs to do - whether that's playing or sitting on the side. We don't expect that he'll play but we'll have to wait and see over the next 24 hours.''
Kyrgios took regular breaks on Wednesday during a 40-minute practice on the grass court at Kooyong, sitting with a towel over his head in sweltering late-afternoon heat.
Kyrgios' mother, Nill, spoke of the ''terrible'' virus her son had dealt with since pulling out of last week's semifinal against Stan Wawrinka in Dubai.
''He's a bit tired, he's still getting over the virus - he's trying his best,'' she said. ''It was hard to get him here ... I think around the boys, it's going to be a discussion ...''
Sam Groth, who is expected to partner John Peers in Saturday's doubles, is ready to step in should Kyrgios (back/hip/virus) or Bernard Tomic (wrist) be forced out of Friday's opening singles.
The American doubles pair of Bob and Mike Bryan also practiced on Wednesday.
Asked about the prospect of a Hewitt return, Mike Bryan said the move wouldn't surprise the Americans.
''He's been playing a lot of singles and doubles, so we're going to be ready for anything,'' Mike Bryan said. ''But if he plays for Australia, it won't be a bad choice for the Aussies - he's a legend and he'll step up just fine.''
Both teams must submit final lineups on Thursday ahead of the draw.