Hewitt chooses Millman over Kokkinakis for Davis Cup
AUSTRALIA captain Lleyton Hewitt says his decision to axe Thanasi Kokkinakis and select John Millman for the Davis Cup semi-final was purely down to form.
Kokkinakis was named in the initial four-man line-up but, less than an hour before the draw was made in Brussels on Thursday, it was announced Millman would play the first singles ahead of the 21-year-old.
Kokkinakis has battled a litany of injuries over the last 18 months but has made some encouraging strides this year on his path to returning to the world's top-70 including reaching the final of the Los Cabos Open in Mexico last month. However, Millman's run to the third round at the US Open and the final at a challenger tournament in Kentucky last month were enough to convince Hewitt he was ready to open the match against Belgium No.1 David Goffin on Friday. "John is match hardened, he's played a lot of five-set tennis, particularly in New York," Hewitt said.
"We have full belief in that he can do a job for us."
Hewitt said it wasn't difficult telling his fellow South Australian he was out of the team.
"We have to look at where Thanasi is at, at the moment," he said. "He's had a pretty rough two years with his body and trying to get it right. He is on a path there to getting it right and playing top tennis again.
"He hasn't played that many big matches at the moment, particularly over five sets.
"But we want to be in a position where Stolts (Jason Stoltenberg) and I and Tony Roche can make tough decisions because we want guys that are playing well and putting their hand up to play for our country." World No.20 Kyrgios will take on the experienced Steve Darcis in the second singles rubber.
John Peers and Jordan Thompson will play the wily Ruben Bemelmans, who played in the last meeting between the two nations in Townsville seven years ago, and rookie Arthur De Greef in Saturday's doubles rubber.
Hewitt has the option of using Thompson should he wish to mix things up for the reverse singles but can't name a player from outside the four-man team, leaving Kokkinakis sidelined for the tie.
ORDER OF PLAY
15 David Goffin v John Millman, Steve Darcis v Nick Kyrgios
16 John Peers and Jordan Thompson v Ruben Bemelmens and Arthur De Greef
David Goffin v Nick Kyrgios, Steve Darcis v John Millman