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Guccione to tackle Mirnyi in Melbourne Davis Cup

Written by: Staff

SYDNEY, Apr 6 (Reuters) Australia's Chris Guccione will face Max Mirnyi of Belarus in the opening singles rubber of their Davis Cup quarter-final at Melbourne's Kooyong tomorrow.

Australia's world number 12 Lleyton Hewitt will play Vladimir Voltchkov in the second singles match with the doubles scheduled for Saturday and the reverse singles Sunday.

Mirnyi and Voltchkov will team up in the doubles while Australia will field a fresh pair in Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley.

The hosts are favourites to win the tie but are wary of their opponents, who upset Spain in the first round, and may have to come from behind.

Hewitt will start at short odds to win his match against Voltchkov, ranked 457th in the world, but Guccione will have his work cut out against Mirnyi.

The towering Belarussian is ranked 51 in the world, 117 places ahead of the left-handed Guccione, and is looming as the key to the tie.

''I think a lot's going to rely on Max's shoulders,'' Hewitt told a news conference after the draw.

''A lot of the times I've played second and gone out there and done the job whether we're one-nil up or one-nil down, so I still feel like there's a lot of pressure on Max first match.'' Hewitt also took a verbal swipe at Voltchkov after he told reporters the previous day he had nothing to fear from the out-of-form Australian, who has not won a tournament in 12 months to slip out of the top 10.

''It's fine him talking the talk first. We've got to see how he performs tomorrow,'' Hewitt said.

''He is a lot better player than what his ranking is, there's no doubt about that, but he's still got to go out there and see what happens tomorrow.'' Australia's non-playing caretaker coach Todd Woodbridge said he also feared Mirnyi, who is ranked number two in the world in doubles and has claimed singles victories over Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Marat Safin and Hewitt.

''Max is dangerous,'' Woodbridge said.

''When he's on, he's incredibly dangerous because of the style that he plays with the serve and volley and the chip-charge and keeping you off balance.'' REUTERS DH RN1139

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