Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt has backed in Alex de Minaur to guide his team to a first Davis Cup semi-final since 2017 in the continued absence of national No.1 Nick Kyrgios.
Efforts across both singles and doubles in 2022, which included making the Wimbledon finals in singles and winning the Australian Open doubles, helped Kyrgios finish the season at 22 in the rankings, two spots ahead of de Minaur who will lead the team in the quarter-final against the Netherlands in Spain.
Captain Lleyton Hewitt declared he relied “heavily” on the world No.24 to be the spiritual leader of his team as much as its fiercest competitor.
“Not only on the court but also off the court as well, which is really important being in a team environment,” Hewitt said on the eve of the clash with the Dutch team.
“We’re extremely proud of Alex and I have no doubt he’s going to play well for us here.
“I rely heavily on Alex, but then again Rochey (coach Tony Roche) and I have spent a lot of time over the years with Alex since he was an orange boy and really getting him ready for these situations where he’s got to go out there and lead the team and he does that so well.”
Coming off one of the best wins of his singles career after taking down world No.3 Daniil Medvedev in the Paris Masters, as part of a 45-25 win-loss overall in 2022, de Minaur said he felt strong “mentally and physically” ahead of his final challenge of the year.
“I’m very happy with how I’ve been able to manage it throughout the whole year,” he said
“I felt like I’ve stayed strong, mentally and physically, and I’ve given myself a chance to win a lot of matches – so that’s, I guess, the ultimate goal.”
But the biggest goal remains for the dedicated Davis Cup performer, who is determined to make “one last strong push so we can tick 2022”.
“It’s always been a great passion of mine to be able to represent Australia in Davis Cup,” de Minaur said.
“I feel very privileged to be in the position that I am. I love these weeks. I want to do everything I can to help my team and help my country. It’s great to be a part of it.”
Hewitt named, Jordan Thompson, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Max Purcell and Matt Ebden to round out the five-man team.
Thompson, who has made nine Davis Cup appearances so far for Australia, was added to the five-man team overnight.
The winner of this tie will play the winner of Croatia vs Spain in the first semi-final on Friday, November 25.