Lleyton Hewitt has drafted doubles specialist John Peers into the Australian Davis Cup squad to tackle the formidable Bryan brothers in their tie against USA next month.
In his first tie as captain, Hewitt effectively replaced himself with Victorian Peers, who is ranked world No.9 in doubles and last year made two grand slam finals with Scot Jamie Murray.
Australian No.1 Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios will play singles on the temporary grass court installed at Kooyong, while Peers will partner Sam Groth.
Hewitt feels he has the strike-power to overcome America’s singles hopes John Isner and Jack Sock.
Kyrgios was in stunning form in his breakthrough ATP Tour title win in Marseille on the weekend while world No.21 Tomic is a proven Davis Cup performer.
But the USA boast the Bryan twins – Bob and Mike – who are the most successful doubles duo of all time.
They are currently ranked world No.5 and 6 but jointly held the top ranking for 438 weeks.
Hewitt said 27-year-old Peers, having faced and beaten the Bryans before, wouldn’t be overwhelmed by their record.
“The doubles is always a crucial match but I feel at the moment we’re going to be underdogs as we’re expecting that the Bryans are going to be on the other side of the net,” Hewitt said.
“John’s played them in quite a lot of big matches over the last two or three years and I think he will feel comfortable playing against those guys.”
He said that he had Peers in mind ever since he took over the captaincy.
“He’s earnt this right; he’s a top 10 doubles player,” Hewitt said.
“I spoke to him at the Masters Cup in London at the end of last year and we talked about what he wanted to do with Davis Cup and the Olympics and he put his hand up for an opportunity.”
Hewitt said Groth would be available as a back-up singles player but had faith that Kyrgios and Tomic would do the job against the giant-serving Americans.
He said the young pair thrived on the big stage and in pressure situations, which is what he expected Kooyong to be like.
Hewitt said the first round tie felt more like a semi-final.
“I believe they can get the job done and the match-ups could work in our favour but it’s going to be tough tennis and pressure and expectations always play a massive part in Davis Cup but Bernie in particular has a really good Davis Cup record.
“All four singles players on both teams have got massive serves so there’s going to be lot of big serving and aces so it’s about taking your chances.”