| Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald is optimistic
Sydney: Australia will be hoping to repair their bruised ego when they meet Spain in the final of the Davis Cup in Melbourne starting on Friday.
The loss to England in last weekend’s rugby World Cup final has shaken Australia’s sporting pride and turned the attention to the tennis team.
Like the Wallabies, Australia’s tennis players have a proud history but things haven’t been going quite so well lately. They may have won the Davis Cup 26 times, second only to the US, but have added just one title since 1986.
Worse still, they’ve lost four finals in that time, including the 2000 final to Spain and the 2001 decider to France.
Although the line-ups haven’t been finalised, former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt and Wimbledon runner-up Mark Philippoussis are likely to play singles for Australia with Todd Woodbridge and Wayne Arthurs in the doubles.
World No. 3 Juan Carlos Ferrero and either Carlos Moya or Feliciano Lopez will play singles for Spain.
Australia lost the 2001 final at home to France when they played on a temporary grass court and they have tempted fate by playing on the same court this week.
Both teams had their first practice sessions at Melbourne Park on Monday. Hewitt and Philippoussis hit against each other and Australia’s non-playing captain John Fitzgerald said the players were feeling edgy.
“Players at that level are competitive and they don’t like to lose on a Sunday drive, or a match at Wimbledon, or a match in a Davis Cup final or any practice session,” Fitzgerald said.
“I think that’s a good sign (that) they were both a bit edgy, a bit competitive, it’s all good stuff.”
The court was criticised in 2001 for playing too low and there were similar signs on Monday but Fitzgerald said there would be no problems.
“I think everyone is going to see a magnificent court come Friday,” Fitzgerald said. “Sure it was slow today, but you couldn’t have it like match day or there’d be nothing left of it.”