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It’s Hewitt vs Ferrero first

Melbourne: Spain’s world No. 3 Juan Carlos Ferrero will face Australia’s former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt in the Davis Cup final’s first singles tie on Friday after the draw was made on a sun-drenched Rod Laver court on Thursday.

Hewitt, who has not played competitive tennis since the Davis Cup semi-final victory over Switzerland in September and has slipped to 18 in the world, is Australia’s second singles player behind world No.9 Mark Philippoussis, who will meet the seventh-ranked Carlos Moya in Friday’s other rubber.

The 22-year-old Hewitt said he was looking forward to getting on the specially-laid grasscourt at the home of the Australian Open and opening the tie.

“I have been looking forward to this since I came off court against (Roger) Federer in the last tie and nothing has changed,” Hewitt said.

“(But) I don’t think it was a big deal which way it (the draw) came out.

“Flip (Philippoussis) and I both know what we have to do on day one and that is go out and play as well as we can and get Australia off to a good start.

“Obviously I’m out there first and Flip is going to be in the locker room (and) hopefully one-nil up when he has to go out.”

The choice of Moya for the singles was something of a surprise, given that Spanish coach Jordi Arrese named 22-year-old Feliciano Lopez to the squad in place of the more experienced Albert Costa, because of his better performances on grass.

Moya has not played on grass since June 2002 at the Halle tournament in Germany where he lost his only match, while the left-handed Lopez has made the fourth round at Wimbledon for the past two years.

“I think (with) Lopez — it being his first Davis Cup tie, it’s a bit tough for him,” Philippoussis said. “(So) I don’t think there is any surprise on who they picked to play.”

Lopez said that the decision to opt for Moya had not disappointed him.

“I think the players chosen are going to play tough,” he said. “I mean they’re going to be really good opponents and they want to win.”

Moya, meanwhile, said he did not expect there to be any problem with adjusting to a grasscourt despite not having played a match on one in almost 18 months. (Reuters)

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