When Lleyton Hewitt named his first team as Davis Cup captain in sweltering heat beside Kooyong's purpose-built grasscourt, he was wearing the cherished, slightly faded, gold tracksuit top featuring his playing number, 89. One of Hewitt's first duties was to announce the identity of Australian representative No.106: Victorian doubles specialist John Peers.
Peers is the world No.9, a dual grand slam finalist with the other Murray brother, Jamie. "He has earnt this right," Hewitt declared of the 28-time cup-winning nation's newest, if low-profile, inclusion, who will join top-35 singles duo Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios and "switch-hitter" Sam Groth in the four-man team for the first-round tie against the US from March 4-6.
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Hewitt picks first Davis Cup team
New Australian Davis Cup captain announces his first Davis Cup team to take on the US next week.
So that's the good news. Hewitt, who succeeded caretaker Wally Masur after last year's semi-final loss to Britain, was not about to sugarcoat the challenges of a fixture he rates as "pretty 50-50, really" against rival captain and fellow commentator Jim Courier's top-25 singles pair of John Isner and Jack Sock, and the decorated - if also slightly faded - doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan, whose cup record is still an exceptional 24-4.
"Obviously the doubles is always a crucial match, but I feel at the moment we're going to be slight underdogs no matter who we put in, purely [because] we're expecting the Bryans are gonna be on the other side of the net," said Hewitt, who could not consider the injured Thanasi Kokkinakis.
"But John has played them in a lot of matches and a lot of big matches over the last two or three years now and I think he'll feel comfortable playing against those guys, and then obviously we have options with the doubles, depending on which way we go and which team we pick."
The singles types, at least, choose themselves: Tomic, who boasts a fine 15-3 Davis Cup record, and is reliably good at home, and the in-form Kyrgios, whose breakthrough first career title in Marseille on Sunday Hewitt hailed as both inevitable and a sign of things to come.
"Fantastic," was the dual grand slam champion's assessment of the 20-year-old hailed as Australia's next-most-likely. "Especially after pulling out of Rotterdam and being able to come out fresh in his first match, he played great, and as the tournament went on he just played with a lot of confidence out there.
"And the way he served, if he can go out there and serve that way he's going to be tough for anybody to beat him on any surface, because he was getting so many cheap points, and then he can actually open up on his return of serves and take it to his opponents a little bit more. We all knew he was going to win a title at some stage, it was a matter of time, but the way he did it and the guys he beat, especially from the quarter-finals onwards, was very impressive."
As for the low-key reaction after the straight-sets defeat of Marin Cilic, Hewitt quipped: "I guess you never know with Nick. He was really pleased with himself, though, and especially how he handled it ... So I I think for him now it's just a massive stepping stone for his confidence."
For the first tie since 1999 between the competition's two most successful nations, Hewitt described as "massive" the opening day match-ups likely to pit Tomic against his pal Sock and Kyrgios against the 11th-ranked Isner. "They're both gonna be really tough matches for both our guys, but I still believe our guys can go out there and get the job done," said Hewitt, thrilled to see Davis Cup tennis return to the historic - and yes, slightly faded - former grand slam venue for the first time in a decade on a surface he describes as "as good as I've seen" for a temporary court.
"I believe in both of them. I think the match-ups work in our favour, but it's gonna be tough tennis, and pressure and expectations always plays a massive part in Davis Cup. But Bernie, in particular, has got a really good Davis Cup record and it's taken absolute quality players and quality tennis to beat him in Davis Cup."