Two-time grand slam winner Lleyton Hewitt says Australia can’t afford to take Kazakhstan lightly in the Davis Cup quarterfinal in Darwin.
Australia will start as hot favourites on the drop-in grass courts, with rising star Thanasi Kokkinakis to kick off the tie against world No.63 Mikhail Kukushkin on Friday.
Nick Kyrgios will later face off against world No.115 Aleksandr Nedovyesov in the second singles match, with Sam Groth to team with Hewitt in Saturday’s doubles.
Kazakhstan’s team features just one player inside the current top-100.
But they’ve caused numerous upsets to reach the quarterfinal stage of the Davis Cup in four of the past five years.
Australia haven’t reached the semi-finals since 2006, but Hewitt says the team can’t afford to get carried away just yet, despite the confidence gained from their 3-2 win over the Czech Republic in March.
“It’s been a lot of tough years and tough ties to put ourselves in this position,” Hewitt said.
“I feel like we’ve got a well balanced team at the moment. A good atmosphere amongst the boys as well.
“Beating the Czechs at home was huge, but we’re certainly not taking this tie lightly.”
Kyrgios said it was an exciting time for Australian tennis.
“We’ve got a massive opportunity,” Kyrgios said.
“I feel we’ve got a lot of depth and talent in our team. If we can play well and do all the right things, we can go really far.”
Australia’s top-ranked player, Bernard Tomic, was axed from the team after he unleashed a scathing verbal attack on Tennis Australia.
The winner of this tie will take on the victor between France and Great Britain.