Rafter talks up teen gun
Rafter talks up teen gun

Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter has talked up the chances of talented youngster Thanasi Kokkinakis lining up for Australia in the World Group play-off tie against Uzbekistan starting at Cottesloe Tennis Club a week tomorrow.

With Davis Cup warrior Lleyton Hewitt (world No.41) and rising star Nick Kyrgios (60) likely to play singles, and doubles specialist Chris Guccione also included, Rafter said Kokkinakis (185) and big-serving Victorian Sam Groth (104) would be competing for the fourth spot in the team.

Rafter said Kokkinakis was still in the mix for the tie despite being named as a hitting partner.

"They've put him down as a hitting partner but he's not," Rafter said yesterday. "He played against France earlier this year. And so that's how much we believe in him being a future great player for us."

Rafter talked up the picturesque Cottesloe venue for a tie Australia need to win to stay in the elite World Group.

"We are very lucky to have great grass courts," he said.

"It's very hard to find grass courts this time of year anywhere in Australia.

"Perth has such a great climate to grow great grass. This is the ideal position and after our first hit today we know we are going to have a great grass court for next weekend."

Rafter said Australia was a "strong" chance to beat Uzbekistan, who will be spearheaded by world No.44 Denis Istomin.

"We beat them on clay last year in their country. You would have to think we would beat them here," he said.

Rafter described teenagers Kyrgios and Kokkinakis as "two of the best young kids in the world".

Rafter also said Hewitt, a member of Davis Cup title- winning teams in 1999 and 2003, was keen to help Australia regain a spot in the elite World Group.

"These kids are very lucky to have seen the way he is and the way he behaves and the way he acts in a Davis Cup environment. We are very lucky to have him," Rafter said.

The West Australian

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