(Australian Associated Press)
US Open giant-killer John Millman is relishing the chance to answer Lleyton Hewitt’s SOS call and lead Australia into battle in next week’s Davis Cup clash with Austria.
Millman was always going to figure in Hewitt’s plans after reaching the second week of a grand slam for the first time in New York.
But Nick Kyrgios’s late scratching and Millman’s incredible fourth-round US Open triumph over Roger Federer has suddenly left the 29-year-old journeyman as Australia’s singles spearhead for the clay-court tie in Graz.
Millman and teenage sensation Alex de Minaur will be Hewitt’s two singles combatants, with the skipper to once again break from retirement to partner John Peers in the doubles.
Set to soar to a career-high No.37 in the world, or higher and even supplant Kyrgios as Australian No.1 if he continues his Flushing Meadows heroics with a quarter-final victory over Novak Djokovic on Wednesday, Millman will jump on the first plane to Austria when his captivating Open run comes to end.
Officially, the tie from September 14-16 is a World Group play-off.
In reality, given the radical overhaul of the competition, the only reward for the winners is world team ranking points ahead of next year’s new end-of-season 18-team format.
“Any opportunity to play for my country, I take it,” Millman said.
“I have always been a big admirer of Davis Cup, not just when I played it, but when I was a kid growing up.
“I was quite vocal about the changes that had been made and as all things are planned to go ahead, to be able to play with the whole format would be a massive honour.”
Typically, despite his spectacular form, the humble Queenslander is refusing to take his position in the team for granted and doesn’t expect to be a walk-up start for his country.
“The camps are normally quite competitive and we will go out there to try to best prepare for what will be a tough tie,” Millman said.
“Every person who is going to be over there, they want to be there. That is the key.
“We want players who are there and ready to go and want to be there and really wanting to make the most of what could be one of the last ties in the proper format that it should be.
“Any opportunity that I have to represent my country and wear the green and gold, whether that be on the sideline, or picking up balls, or playing, I will take with both hands.”
Jordan Thompson was also named in Hewitt’s five-man Australian team, while Alex Bolt also travelled to Europe as a hitting partner.