Feeding time with Burt the crocodile provided Australia’s Davis Cup team with plenty of laughs, but Kazakhstan have set their sights on landing a bite that will really hurt – quarter-final success.
The Davis Cup draw was done with a crocodile twist in Darwin on Thursday, with Burt’s choice of food deciding the make-up of the schedule.
A bit of meat representing teenage sensation Thanasi Kokkinakis proved too hard for Burt to resist, with Aleksandr Nedovyesov also finding himself in the croc’s mouth.
Players from both sides lapped up the experience, but the fun and games will disappear on Friday as the two teams do battle for a spot in the Davis Cup semi-finals.
Australia’s squad boasts three players inside the top-100, along with two-time grand slam champion Lleyton Hewitt.
In contrast, world No.63 Mikhail Kukushkin is Kazakhstan’s top-ranked player, with Aleksandr Nedovyesov (115th), and Andrey Golubev (155th) the other main members.
The trio haven’t been able to make much of an impact on the ATP tour.
But they’ve proven to be Davis Cup giants, helping Kazakhstan reach the quarter-finals in four of the past five years.
Australia will start as hot favourites on home grass, but Kazakhstan are quietly confident of rocking the boat.
“That’s our goal – to cause an upset,” Nedovyesov said.
“We’ve said many times that our goal is to reach the semi-finals for the first time.
“It’s time to do it. This is going to be the one. I believe so.”
Kazakhstan came close to reaching the semi-finals last year.
Up 2-1 against Switzerland and leading by a set and a break in the first reverse singles, Kazakhstan imploded to lose 3-2.
That heartbreak has made the team even hungrier for success this year.
“We’ve been at this stage for the fourth time in the last five years. We’re not satisfied just with the quarter-finals,” captain Dias Doskarayev said.
“We know what we have to do. The guys are ready. They embrace the Davis Cup and playing for their country.”