Tennis legend Pat Rafter will be a fascinated observer as Nick Kyrgios makes his much-anticipated return to national colours at the inaugural United Cup mixed teams’ event.
After a three-year Davis Cup exile, claiming he hasn’t been sufficiently appreciated by Australian fans, Kyrgios will reunite with skipper Lleyton Hewitt under the United Cup co-captaincy of women’s great Samantha Stosur.
Hewitt and Australian No.2 Alex de Minaur have made no secret of their ongoing attempts to entice Kyrgios back to the Davis Cup fold, going public with their frustration after losing this year’s final without the 2022 Wimbledon runner-up.
Rafter relinquished the Davis Cup captaincy in 2015 after growing tired of watching Kyrgios and fellow wild child Bernard Tomic “unravel” during the early stages of their tumultuous careers.
Blissfully content to remain on the outer, Rafter admits he’ll be as interested as every other tennis fan when Kyrgios teams up with Hewitt for Australia’s two-session opening United Cup tie against Great Britain in Sydney on December 29-30.
“He will have to work out how he goes about all that. I don’t really know what goes on with him,” Rafter told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.
“I just sit back and watch it, see what comes out and have a bit of a laugh.
“Because I am not involved in it and don’t need to be, I really enjoy sitting back now and not have to say or do anything.”
Rafter didn’t necessarily agree that Australia would have won this year’s Davis Cup had Kyrgios been available.
“Would’ves. Should’ves. Could’ves,” said the former world No.1 and two-time US Open champion.
“You’ve got to want to be there. If you don’t, you don’t just let down yourself, you let down the team.
“Obviously you have got Lleyton there running the show. All our generation wanted to be there and play. We loved it. Some people don’t like it.”
Asked if he was privy to any falling out behind the scenes between Kyrgios and Hewitt, Rafter said: “That I don’t know. They are together here (at the United Cup).
“They have been together before in Davis Cup. He is captain again. We will wait and see what happens but it could work. It is going to be interesting.”
While Rafter relished representing Australia in the Davis Cup, he said only time would tell if Kyrgios returned to the competition in 2023.
“You’ve got to have the buy-in with the players and Lleyton as well,” he said.
“Lleyton has to work out how he wants to structure his team and how he wants it all to evolve.
“(Kygrios) will dictate his results. He will dictate who he is. He will dictate how he fits in with the Australian personality and persona of taking him on. That is up to him.”
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