2021 Davis Cup Finals nation preview: Australia
IN November, the 2021 Davis Cup takes place across three cities in Europe as 18 teams aim to lift the ultimate international men’s team prize. Six groups of three sees the group winner automatically advancing to the knockout quarter finals, with the two next best nations also moving through. In the lead-up to the event, Rookie Me Central will be previewing each of the nations in reverse world ranking order.
Captain: Lleyton Hewitt
vs. Croatia | November 25
vs. Hungry | November 27
Australia heads into the 2021 Davis Cup Finals as a team that can always be considered a threat, but a combination of unavailabilities and curious team selection has left the green and gold fans wondering just how far Lleyton Hewitt’s side can go this year. Ending up in Group D, they take on world number two’s Croatia who Australia faces in the opening match of their group. That will ultimately decide how deep they go, because if they overcome Croatia, the Aussies should have no troubles wrapping up the group topping against Hungary. The two biggest question marks on the Australian team are for very different reasons.
Firstly, the unavailability of Nick Kyrgios who has quite rightly put family first by ending his ATP Tour season to care for his ill mother, means the Australians will be without one of their automatic singles talents. But the biggest, and more puzzling selection that many are asking is “where the hell is James Duckworth?” It is a fair enough question too, as his form is far superior to any of the others named. Whilst Alex de Minaur was always going to be a lock if available, the decision to stay with both John Millman and Jordan Thompson over Duckworth, and include Alexei Popyrin as a fourth singles player, is a blow to the nation. That is nothing against those three who are terrific servants of the nation, and in Popyrin’s case have a big future, but Duckworth’s omission given his form, is startling.
Similarly, John Peers was the clear doubles player to include, but as the only doubles-specific player, it brings more question marks to the table. But, all anyone can do is assess the team put out, and they should do enough to cover Hungary, though Marton Fucsovics is always dangerous regardless of opponents. But the pressure is put back on the Australians against Croatia, needing to win both singles against Marin Cilic and Borna Coric, given the European nation houses the world number one doubles combination in Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic. Put simply, if the Australians drop a singles match, it is hard to imagine they go through.
Prediction: 2nd in Group D
IN A SENTENCE: “Australia is likely to defeat Hungary but less likely to take care of world number twos Croatia, and would need to perform at 100 per cent to roll one of the tournament favourites.”