Nick Kyrgios insists Bernard Tomic is “a harmless kid” who was harshly banished from Australia’s Davis Cup quarter-final against Kazakhstan this month.
Cup captain Wally Masur on Monday named Kyrgios to spearhead Australia’s four-man team also featuring Sam Groth, Thanasi Kokkinakis and long-time leader Lleyton Hewitt.
John Millman will travel to Darwin as a hitting partner after reaching the second round at Wimbledon from qualifying to crack the world’s top 100 for the first time.
Tomic has been suspended for the grasscourt fixture following his extraordinary weekend attack on Tennis Australia president Steve Healy, chief executive Craig Tiley and director of player performance Pat Rafter.
Kyrgios believes Tomic’s punishment was too extreme.
“The ultimate goal is to win the Davis Cup,” Kyrgios said after his fourth-round Wimbledon loss to Richard Gasquet.
“That’s why we’re playing it. I mean, is it not? And he’s Australia’s No.1.
“I think out of all the players, he’s the best on grass court that we have.
“So, yeah, I mean, I’m sure we could put him in.”
During his 10-minute tirade against the establishment after his own Wimbledon exit, Tomic claimed Kyrgios had pledged to also sit out the quarter-final if his good friend followed through on his threat to boycott the tie.
Tomic recommitted on Friday, only to be stood down.
Masur said every member of the team, including Hewitt, sought clarification around Tomic’s punishment before it was handed down.
But he denied Kyrgios, as reported, had sent TA officials a text saying he was reconsidering his availability once TA rubbed Tomic out.
Kyrgios released a statement on Sunday that he was available for July 17-19 tie – pending full health and fitness – but on Monday was unsure when he would travel to the Northern Territory.
“I don’t know exactly when Darwin starts,” he said.
“I’m sure I’ll create some sort of plan. I’m feeling okay at the moment. Obviously a couple niggles here and there, but yeah.”
Kyrgios backed Tomic, 22, to bounce back from his latest setback.
“He’s still a kid as well,” said the 20-year-old Kyrgios.
“He’s been a good, good friend for me. He’s always been there for me as well.
“I mean, personally knowing him, he’s probably going to bounce back. He’s seriously a harmless kid.”
Despite still clearly struggling to digest his Wimbledon defeat and not yet ready to turn his attention to Davis Cup, Kyrgios also said Australia had a huge opportunity to win the competition this year for the first time since 2003.
“I think having Groth, Thanasi is playing some good tennis as well,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate not to have Bernard. Obviously with Lleyton there as well, we have a lot of depth.”
“We have a good coach there as well. I think we can go far.”
Masur will likely use Groth as his singles No.2 behind Kyrgios and play Hewitt and Kokkinakis in the doubles after the master-and-apprentice pair reached the third round together at Wimbledon.
The skipper’s bigger dilemma is helping Tomic mend relationships with TA’s hierarchy after the world No.26 accused Healy, Tiley and Rafter of mismanagement and neglect in the latest episode of the Tomic family’s long-running feud with the governing body.
“The gripes they have, maybe they have to be presented to Tennis Australia (properly),” Masur said .
“I’d like to think that ultimately they can be resolved. We’re a pretty small tennis fraternity.
“Bernie’s a significant player and he’s only going to get better, but it’s got to get to a much better point than it is, obviously.”