Aussies fearless in ‘group of death’ at ATP Cup

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Australia's ATP Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt has acknowledged the tricky task awaiting his players in the tournament, which kicks off today.

The home nation will take the court tomorrow against Italy, with James Duckworth taking on Jannik Sinner and Alex De Minaur facing Matteo Berrettini. Ties against Russia and France will follow.

"It's an extremely tough group," Hewitt said.

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"Our boys have got nothing to lose."

Hewitt described the tournament as a "good opportunity to go out there as the underdogs in a couple of matches and really take it and test themselves".

"They've all been training extremely hard in these conditions, as well. So they'll be well prepared when they get the opportunity," he said.

The Aussie squad is rounded out by Max Purcell, John Peers, and Luke Saville.

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The phrase group of death is thrown around a lot in international competitions, but Australia are well and truly up against it here. Sinner and Berrettini are both ranked in the top ten in the world right now, and Russia has world number two Daniil Medvedev.

France are the only team ranked below Australia in the tournament but it will still be tough with two top 60 players in Ugo Humbert (35) and Arthur Rinderknech (58).

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De Minaur was at one stage ranked as high as 15th in the world but currently sits at 34, with Duckworth 49th.

"I think this is the beauty of the ATP Cup at the start of the year," De Minaur told reporters.

"I've experienced it before, and it's a great way to kind of see where I'm at. These are the kind of matches I want to be playing. It's a great challenge for me, which I'm looking forward to."

Unlike a lot of other competitions with group stage formats that reward two teams from each quartet, only the top side here will advance, straight to a semi-final, so every tie is crucial.

"I'm just really looking forward to being back here in Sydney, playing in front of an amazing atmosphere and hopefully packed crowds," de Minaur said.

"We've got such fond memories from playing on Ken Rosewall Arena, so I'm itching to get back out there and compete and represent the green and gold. It's always a huge honour."

The 16-team tournament begins today with Chile v Spain and Serbia v Norway in Group A, and Argentina v Georgia and Greece v Poland in Group D.

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