Bernard Tomic will spearhead Australia's Davis Cup team next week in Lleyton Hewitt's absence, with Matt Ebden likely to edge out Marinko Matosevic for the second singles berth.
Tomic has been in patchy form since his great Australian Open run in January when he reached the round of 16 before losing to Roger Federer.
But the 19-year-old world number 37 will carry big responsibility in the zonal second-round tie against South Korea in Brisbane from April 6-8 as Australia bids for a play-off tie which could return it to the elite World Group in 2013.
Hewitt, the hero of so many Cup ties, is out of action until the Queens tournament in June, in the lead up to Wimbledon, after recent surgery to fix the painful problem with his left big toe.
That means either world number 78 Ebden or number 122 Matosevic must step up as the second singles player after being named in coach Pat Rafter's five-man squad on Tuesday, along with likely doubles player Chris Guccione and 19-year-old Queensland rookie Ben Mitchell.
Rafter strongly hinted 24-year-old Ebden would get the singles job.
"Matt's achieved some of the best wins of his career in the past couple of weeks and this tie in Brisbane, where he's already enjoyed some success, is his chance to really step up and take responsibility as a key member of the team," Rafter said.
But Matosevic's practise form may have some say in that as he has also enjoyed some career-best form recently to reach his current best ranking.
Ebden downed accomplished players in Julien Benneteau and eighth seed Mardy Fish in reaching the Indian Wells Masters quarter-finals this month.
But Matosevic won seven straight matches from qualifying to reach the Delray Beach final and he also got through qualifying at both the Indian Wells Masters and Miami Masters.
"It was great to see Marinko go all the way through to the final in Delray Beach a couple of weeks ago," Rafter said.
"He's continuing to improve and has great potential."
AAPTags: tennis, sport, brisbane-4000 First posted March 27, 2012 12:20:47