Rafter opts for youth in Davis Cup tie against France

Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:04am EST
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(Reuters) - Australia Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter named three teenagers in his squad on Tuesday for their away tie against France, their first World Group appearance since 2007.

World number 57 Bernard Tomic was not considered due to an injury that forced him out of the Australian Open first round, while world number 54 Marinko Matosevic was dropped.

Rafter instead included Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis in the squad to join veteran Lleyton Hewitt and doubles specialist Chris Guccione for the January 31-Feb 2. tie.

Jordan Thompson would be the travelling reserve.

"It's going to be a fantastic environment for these kids, and good for us as well," Rafter told reporters at Melbourne Park of his decision to include 18-year-old Kyrgios, Kokkinakis (17) and Thompson (19).

"It's at that stage where you want to believe and make this team as strong as we can and as deep as we can.

"I like the idea we got obviously Bernie there ready to come back after his operation, and Marinko hopefully able to overcome the things he needs to overcome to become a great Davis Cup player."

Rafter said dropping Matosevic, who had been in the top-40 last year, was a decision that had been tough to make but he felt it would aid the 28-year-old in the long run.

"Marinko understands. He knows what he has to do. Even though Marinko is the number two player, he's still learning, I guess, all the time," Rafter said.   Continued...

Australia's Nick Kyrgios and Chris Guccione (R) talk during their Davis Cup play-off doubles tennis match against Poland's Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski in Warsaw Septmeber 14, 2013. REUTERS/Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta