WARSAW, POLAND: The major talking point leading into this weekend’s Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-off between Poland and Australia in Warsaw was whether or not the host nation’s spearhead, Jerzy Janowicz, and more specifically his back, would be in a fit state to play.
Speculation about the extent of the world No. 14’s strain, which he picked up during a gym session and caused him to crash out of the first round of the US Open last month, was rife in the build up to the tie, particularly given the Polish team’s tactics of keeping their cards regarding their star man’s condition clutched firmly to their chest.
It was only at the 11th hour that confirmation was made that Janowicz would take no part in the tie, an outcome that strikes a major blow to the Poles’ hopes of breaking into the top tier of the Davis Cup for the very first time. The 22-year-old, a Wimbledon semifinalist this year, was the only singles player coming into the tie ranked better than 50th in the world. Instead, Michal Przysiezny, a player ranked 99 places below him in the world has been called into fill his shoes.
This news, naturally, isn’t bad for everyone. Australia, the second most successful nation in Davis Cup history, having won the competition 28 times, would have been most people’s underdogs heading into the weekend. Now facing a team without Janowicz, the Aussies must be considered favourites to win the tie and end their stretch of five consecutive World Group play-off losses.
The Australians also sprang a surprise of their own just before the draw, announcing that 18-year-old Nick Kyrgios would replace Marinko Matosevic. Kygrios, winner of this year’s Australian Open junior title, has not been named to line up in any of the singles or doubles matches this weekend, but could be called upon to play a role should team captain Pat Rafter choose to use him.
The action begins on the clay courts of the 5,000 seat Torwar Hall on Friday afternoon with the new Poland No. 1, and world No. 70, Lukasz Kubot squaring up against the 32-year-old Aussie veteran Lleyton Hewitt, who’s been nominated to play on all three days of the tie.
The second singles rubber of the day sees Michal Przysiezny take on Australian number one Bernard Tomic. The young Australian No. 1 spoke after the draw of his desire to rekindle the form that saw him win his last two Davis Cup singles rubbers, against Uzbekistan in April. “When Davis Cup comes along I play really good and get the best out of myself, so I’m ready to step out on the court tomorrow,” he said.
Of all the intriguing match-ups over the weekend, there’s little doubt that Saturday’s doubles rubber has the potential to be one of the tastiest as the formidable Polish duo of Marcin Matkowski and Mariusz Fyrstenberg, ranked 19th and 20th in the world in doubles respectively, take on Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione, the latter of whom has won all eight of his previous doubles rubbers.
Sunday’s reverse singles pit Lukasz Kubot against Bernard Tomic in the first match of the day, while Michal Przysiezny is scheduled to meet Lleyton Hewitt in the final rubber of the tie.
The full draw is listed below:
R1: Lukasz Kubot (POL) v Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)
R2: Michal Przysiezny (POL) v Bernard Tomic (AUS)
R3: Mariusz Fyrstenberg/Marcin Matkowski (POL) v Chris Guccione/Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)
R4: Lukasz Kubot (POL) v Bernard Tomic (AUS)
R5: Michal Przysiezny (POL) v Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) - 12/09/2013
Bernard Tomic (AUS) - 12/09/2013
Captain Radoslaw Szymanik (POL) - 12/09/2013
Michal Przysiezny (POL) - 12/09/2013