The Czech Republic team is certainly weakened with the unavailability of their no.1 star Tomas Berdych and that certainly favours Australia on paper.
The Aussies will also benefit from playing at Kooyong and with the support of the local fans, the Australians will be the strong favourites.
But don’t take anything away from the Czech players. I’ve seen Radek Stepanek play some great matches in his career, so the Australian players will have to be at their best.
With Bernard Tomic unavailable, Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt has selected Jordan Thompson (pictured above).
Jordan has improved really well in the last year or so and has played well in some of those tournaments including the most recent Australian Open.
It will be a good experience for him and I think he’ll handle it very well. He seems to be a cool-headed customer and I’m sure he’ll perform well.
Not having Tomic is a bit of a loss from a rankings point of view, but with Nick Kyrgios playing, we still have a top ranking player to lead the team.
Kyrgios will hopefully improve his form from the Australian Open and with some good practice with his teammates, I’m sure he’ll be fighting fit and ready to play well. I’m confident Thompson will do the same.
The first round World Group match will be played on a hardcourt and I don’t think the grasscourt gives any Australian player a great advantage.
Maybe five years ago it was when grass was a far more dominant surface for Australian players.
If we played on grass, I don’t think it would be to the advantage of the Czech Republic players.
We’re taking a bit of a chance playing this tie on a hardcourt because the Czech players are better on a hardcourt than they are on grass, but it’s an expensive item putting down grass every time we have a Davis Cup match.
Nevertheless, I’m expecting the Australians to rise to the occasion.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Stepanek win a match.
Jiri Vesely isn’t as well known and credentialed as Stepanek but I’ll give the Czech veteran a match, so hopefully Sam Groth and John Peers will team well together in the doubles.
I know they have teamed well before and won some matches together but it all depends on Groth.
He is a bit up and down and while he has a big serve, the rest of his game falters a little as it did at the Australian Open.
Hopefully he’ll be 100 per cent and be good support for Peers and we can get a win in the doubles.
Australia at $1.25
Czech Republic at $3.80
Correct score: Australia 4-1