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Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 22:47 GMT
Hewitt backs clay decision
Hewitt has never gone past the quarter-finals at the French Open
Lleyton Hewitt has yet to excel on clay
Lleyton Hewitt has backed Australia's decision to play their Davis Cup tie against Britain on a specially-constructed clay court.

The world number one admits that clay is his least favoured surface, but he believes that it offers Australia their best chance of overcoming Britain.

"I think I'm still a couple of years away from playing my best tennis on European clay," he said.

"But as a team, I think it's the right decision."

Britain's top two players - Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski - are strongest on grass, and Hewitt believes that Australia's second-string players will have their best chance of beating the British pair on clay.

Greg Rusedski is not at home on clay
Australia see Rusedski as a threat

"We really don't know with Flip (Mark Philippoussis) how his knee's going to pull up after the Australian Open with five-set matches.

"He got injured in the last grand slam, the US Open.

"So then we have to look to our back-ups, Wayne Arthurs and Scott Draper.

"I think that their best chance against those two big servers is on clay."

February's tie will be played at the Sydney International Tennis Centre in Homebush - one of the venues for the 2000 Olympics.

It will be the first time the hosts have chosen clay in 103 years of Davis Cup history.

Australian captain John Fitzgerald said the decision was a unanimous one.

It had been rumoured for some time that the tie would be in Sydney on clay

Roger Taylor

He said: "This is certainly our home court advantage - we think it suits us."

And Fitzgerald was quick to recall Australia's victorious tie against France in 1999.

He said: "Don't forget it was a couple of years ago when Lleyton Hewitt and Mark Philippoussis played singles in the final of the Davis Cup in Nice and it was on clay."

However, the Australians have won only five of 14 world group ties since 1983 on clay.

British captain Roger Taylor said: "It's no surprise. It had been rumoured for some time that the tie would be in Sydney on clay.

"Playing Lleyton on any surface is a tough test but Tim's form on clay has been pretty good over the last two seasons."

However, Henman and Rusedski's participation in the tie remains in doubt as they are both recovering from recent surgery.

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Australia's Lleyton Hewitt
"Clay is more important against Rusedski"
See also:

05 Dec 02 | Tennis
03 Oct 02 | Tennis
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