Demon-Hewitt bond forged in fire
ALEX de Minaur will channel the fighting qualities of his captain Lleyton Hewitt in Australia's bid for ATP Cup success.
Australia's highest ranked men's player, world No.18 de Minaur will lead the green and gold charge, which begins with a tough Group F assignment against Germany at Brisbane's Pat Rafter Arena on Friday.
Courtside will be captain Hewitt, whose never-say-die attitude was a trademark during a career that landed him Wimbledon and US Open singles titles, as well as Davis Cup glory.
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"The biggest thing is we're both competitors and that's why we get along so well," Hewitt said of the strong bond between he and de Minaur.
"We understand what it's like to go into battle out there and especially playing for your country.
"I know for me there was no greater honour than playing in any event for your country and I think Alex feels exactly the same way.
"He goes out there and leaves absolutely everything on the court every time. The rest of the team, they know that's going to happen. They see it on the practice court, they see him behind the scenes, how professional he is and how he goes about it.
"They also see how much he wants to win for his team and his country, so that rubs off on everyone else."
De Minaur said the ATP Cup was an event he "cherished".
"It's another opportunity to represent your country, so whenever you step out there on the court it means so much more," the 20-year-old Sydneysider said.
"You're not playing for yourself, you're playing for a team and you just cherish those moments for the rest of your career.
"I know coming in I've got a very tough role, a lot of tough matches, but it's the fun part of it as well.
"Hopefully I can go out there to battle, and try to do as best as I can for my team."
Managing the different personalities of de Minaur and Australia's No. 2 singles player Nick Kyrgios will be a big part of Hewitt's job.
"My role as the captain is to try to motivate these guys to get the best out of themselves," Hewitt said.
"All the players are different and that's where you've got to know the personalities and what you're working with, not just on the court, but behind the scenes, (and) off the court as well.
"Alex and Nick Kyrgios are two totally different players, both with their game styles and their personalities on court, but also off court and how they prepare for matches. It's a good contrast for us as a team.
"With Alex, you kind of work him up a little bit where he's pretty fired up and ready to go as soon as he steps on court and he'll bring that energy and intensity.
"With Nick it's about being a little bit more relaxed, joking around probably a little bit more before he actually goes on court.
"And then once he's out there, it's a matter of just talking him through certain situations that arise throughout a match. But the big key for him is if he's serving well, his whole game really comes together."