Kyrgios up for Davis Cup challenge

Nick Kyrgios is vowing to pilot Australia back into the World Group after declaring himself raring to go for his first Davis Cup appearance in more than a year.

Making his long-awaited return after missing Australia’s past two ties, Kyrgios has been drawn to play Slovakian No.2 Andrej Martin in Friday’s opening singles rubber of the grasscourt playoff at Sydney Olympic Park.

The world No.15 missed Australia’s first-round loss to the USA in March through injury after being overlooked for last year’s semi-final against Great Britain following his infamous sledging of Stan Wawrinka.

A hip injury that curtailed his US Open campaign earlier this month threatened to rule Kyrgios out yet again, but the reigning Hopman Cup champion is eager to finally wear the green and gold again.

“I’m feeling really good. I’ve been practising a lot and I’ve been hitting them well and there’s no signs that indicate that I wouldn’t be healthy to play,” Kyrgios said at Thursday’s draw.

“Everyone’s got faith in me in the team and I’m really glad I’m picked to play and I’m really excited about tomorrow.

“I’m playing great tennis. I think I was playing the best tennis of my life last week and I was a bit disappointed to pull out, but I’m ready for whatever challenges come tomorrow.”

Despite his immense talent, the two-time grand slam quarter-finalist and former Australian Open junior champion hasn’t secured a point for Australia in live Davis Cup rubber in two years.

Kyrgios admits the atmosphere and pressure of representing Australia in the 116-year-old competition “is different” and he’s eager to start contributing in a big way.

“You’re not playing for yourself. You’re playing for all of Australia and everyone next to me here,” he said.

“I know how much Davis Cup means to everyone in our team and everyone in our squad as well.

“It’s a lot of work put in and I just want to get the job done tomorrow and get us back in the World Group.”

Kyrgios is a raging favourite to put Australia one up, although the 127th-ranked Martin did beat him in their only previous meeting three years ago in Germany.

“It’s going to be a big challenge but I’m really looking forward to it,” Martin said as he plotted a major upset in the absence of Slovakia’s top two-ranked singles players, world No.31 Martin Klizan and world No.102 Lukas Lacko.

Bernard Tomic will play Jozef Kovalik, the world No.123, in Friday’s second singles match before Australian pair Sam Groth and John Peers face Martin and Igor Zelenay in Saturday’s doubles rubber.

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