Lleyton Hewitt at centre of Davis Cup selection drama after Aussie loss to GB

The two-time grand slam champion made a big selection call.

Lleyton Hewitt reacts and Hewitt poses with Thanasi Kokkankis.
Lleyton Hewitt's (pictured left) selections for Australia's David Cup loss against Great Britain have come under question after Thanasi Kokkankis was picked to play singles. (Getty Images)

Aussie tennis fans have been left perplexed after Lleyton Hewitt preferred Thanasi Kokkinakis over Alexei Popyrin or Max Purcell in the singles tie during the team's Davis Cup loss to Great Britain. Australia face a tough task in advancing out of their Davis Cup group stage after Matt Ebden and Purcell earned the only point in a doubles win after Alex de Minaur and Kokkinakis went down in the singles.

Kokkinakis had plenty of opportunities against young star Jack Draper, but was defeated 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) in a quality big-hitting duel. World No.12 de Minaur, Australia's highest ranked singles player, was expected to win his match against Dan Evans to level the tie. But the Englishman quelled a typical de Minaur comeback from the Aussie to win 6-1 2-6 6-4.

INTERESTING: Ash Barty detail comes to light after 'pathetic' US Open viewership

'SERIOUSLY': Serena Williams cops backlash over brutal Simona Halep response

INTERESTING: Djokovic accused of sneaky act amid grand slam celebrations

But 2022 Wimbledon doubles champions Ebden and Purcell then rekindled their old partnership to beat Evans and Neal Skupski 7-6 (7-5) 6-4, a victory that at least left the team hopeful after a disappointing start to their bid to surpass last year when they lost to Canada after reaching their first final since 2003.

Australia's loss means they need to defeat France in the next best-of-three tie, before a potential showdown with Switzerland. The precarious position has also thrown up some questions to why Hewitt selected Kokkinakis for the singles competition.

Kokkanikis is ranked World No.74 and is the seventh highest ranked Aussie singles player. While he has been involved in some classic battles in 2023, he has struggled for form of late as he still fights his way up the rankings.

This is the opposite to World No.45 Popyrin and especially World No.43 Max Purcell who have both been in pretty strong form. Jordan Thompson also sits above Kokkinakis in the rankings.

Lleyton Hewitt cheers Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt (pictured right) cheers on Thanasi Kokkinakis during the Davis Cup. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images for ITF)

While Kokkankis played well and was involved in a classic against Draper, the tie against the inexperienced 21-year-old was a missed opportunity. Kokkinakis was trusted by Hewitt to play the key starter role despite a disappointing display in last year's Finals.

Unfortunately, Kokkinakis admitted: "I let my nerves get to me a little bit ... it's definitely a tough one. It stings for sure." And Hewitt will now have a huge dilemma on his hands ahead of the France tie after a third straight Cup defeat with the captain admitting Kokkinakis had been a "little bit over-anxious".

Aussie tennis fans question Lleyton Hewitt selections

And Aussie tennis fans have also questioned the thinking behind selecting Kokkinakis. Some believed Hewitt was worried about player burn out, considering the group will play throughout the week in a number of ties. Others felt Kokkinakis might have been a better stylistic match-up against Draper.

Regardless, fans attempted to delve into the thinking of the two-time grand slam champion after Australia's brutal loss.

Australia may have missed an opportunity to take some points in the Davis Cup with no Cameron Norrie or Andy Murray lining-up for Great Britain. And de Minaur said he would try and turn the momentum heading into the next tie.

"I'll do my best to get the boys up and hopefully we can turn things round," de Minaur said, who was downbeat after the loss.

He's odds-on to be leading the team again against France, who beat Switzerland 3-0 in their opener, probably facing southpaw Ugo Humbert, who beat him in Atlanta in July.

with AAP

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.