Lleyton Hewitt has applied the blow torch to Andy Murray on the eve of Australia’s Davis Cup semi-final with Great Britain in Glasgow.
Hugely reliant on Murray, the Brits almost certainly need the world No.3 to win both his singles matches plus the doubles – if he plays – in order to reach the Davis Cup final for the first time since 1978.
Having carried the twin burden of singles and doubles on countless occasions himself, Australia’s longest-serving and most prolific Davis Cup performer says the heat is undoubtedly on Murray to deliver in front of his Scottish home fans.
“A lot of the pressure is obviously on Andy,” Hewitt said ahead of Thursday’s draw at the Emirates Arena.
“Whoever gets the opportunity to take him on on day one really has nothing to lose.
“You can go out there, free swinging, and play your game while Andy pretty much has to win that match in a lot of ways.”
Australian captain Wally Masur is tipped to thrust teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis on Murray on day one, but knows the higher-ranked Sam Groth – likely to be saved for Saturday’s doubles – is also capable.
Hewitt doesn’t mind who Masur puts his faith in.
“It is going to be a big rubber for them, I think, and these young boys are big-match players as well,” Hewitt said.
“Grothy and I teamed very well under massive pressure and got it done in July (against Kazakhstan) so we are going to be ready for the battle all weekend.
“We are going to try to come up with the best team to win three out of the five matches.
Masur has until an hour before Thursday’s draw in Glasgow to formalise his line-up, and Kokkinakis is hungry for another chance after losing his opening match against the Kazakhs on grass in Darwin.
The slower indoor hardcourt surface has Masur leaning towards the 19-year-old world No.72, despite his ranking 18 spots below Groth, who will partner Hewitt in the doubles.
“I’m very excited,” Kokkinakis said.
“I don’t know what’s going on yet, as far as who’s playing.
“But it would be an unbelievable atmosphere to play here. That would mean I’d play Andy first up.
“It’d be crazy, an unbelievable experience for me and hopefully I get the call up.”
With Murray’s brother Jamie a certainty for the doubles, any points Great Britain collect may all come from Scots and possibly none from an Englishman.
But Hewitt cheekily said he was still okay with calling the bumper semi-final an Ashes-like contest.
“In the past, their cricket team hasn’t had a lot of English either,” he said.
Victory over the Brits would vault Australia into either a home final against Argentina from November 27-29 or an away decider in Belgium.