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Spotlight on Millman as Aussies eye win in Austria

John Millman’s form will be pivotal to Australia’s hopes in Austria. Picture: Today Sports
John Millman’s form will be pivotal to Australia’s hopes in Austria. Picture: Today Sports

THERE'S no let-up for John Millman as the US Open quarter-finalist leads Australia into Davis Cup battle with Austria this weekend.

With regular spearhead Nick Kyrgios saving himself for next week's Laver Cup, Australia will rely on Millman and young gun Alex de Minaur for singles duty at the clay-court tie in Graz.

Lleyton Hewitt is tipped to partner John Peers in the doubles after naming himself as player-captain for a World Group play-off that has lost much of its lustre due to the radical overhaul of the 118-year-old teams event.

From next year, the Davis Cup will transform into an 18-team, end-of-season finale played at a neutral venue, with Madrid set to host the inaugural staging of the competition in 2019.

Already guaranteed a place in February's qualifying round regardless of this weekend's result due to its top ranking in Asia/Oceania, Australia must beat Austria to be seeded.

Austria, led by French Open finalist and world No.7 Dominic Thiem, must win to guarantee a place in the qualifying round.

Thiem will take on de Minaur in the opening singles rubber, with Millman likely to face world No.133 Dennis Novak in what shapes as a must-win encounter for Australia.

At No.37 and No.38 in the world respectively, both Millman - who beat Roger Federer before falling to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in New York last week - and de Minaur enter the play-off with career-high rankings after their great runs at Flushing Meadows.

Lleyton Hewitt and John Peers are set to team up again for Australia.
Lleyton Hewitt and John Peers are set to team up again for Australia.

But losing both matches on the opening day would leave Australia needing to win the doubles and then Millman defeating Thiem on his favoured surface to send the tie to a deciding fifth rubber.

World No.111 Jordan Thompson has also been included in Australia's five-man team.

The action starts on Saturday (AEST).

Topics:  alex de minaur davis cup dominic thiem john millman john peers jordan thompson lleyton hewitt nick kyrgios novak djokovic roger federer