Australia’s long-awaited return to the Davis Cup World Group could be short-lived, with Bernard Tomic requiring hip surgery and set to be out of action for up to three months.
Tomic was forced to quit after one set of his Australian Open first-round match with Rafael Nadal on Tuesday night and doctors have advised the 21-year-old to go under the knife to repair his long-standing injury.
Tomic will have surgery during the week in Melbourne to repair the tear, related to a femoralacetabular impingement (FAI) that has restricted his athleticism.
Tennis Australia on Sunday confirmed the surgery would rule him out of Australia’s first-round tie in France starting on January 31.
Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter will instead look to youngsters Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis, who both made the second round at Melbourne Park, or world No.54 Marinko Matosevic to support singles spearhead Lleyton Hewitt.
Rafter, who will make the team announcement on Tuesday, could also call on Matthew Ebden or doubles specialist Chris Guccione for the 31 January – 2 February tie.
Australia have drawn one of the toughest assignments in world tennis – an away tie in La Roche-sur-Yon for an indoor claycourt tussle with a French line-up boasting the Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils.
French tennis is enjoying a renaissance, with six players seeded in the men’s Australian Open draw and eight through to the third round, the most in the tournament’s history.
Apart from the top trio, France can also call on Kyrgios’s Open conqueror Benoit Paire and former top-10 star Gilles Simon.
While a Mark Philippoussis-inspired Australia won the Davis Cup on their last visit to France in 1999, 15 years on the odds are firmly stacked against Rafter’s team.