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James Duckworth named in Australian Davis Cup squad for the first time

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Sydney's James Duckworth could be on the verge of a Davis Cup debut after being named in the five-man Australian squad for their World Group Play-off tie in Germany. The Australians will take on the Germans in Hamburg on clay for a place in next year's Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group.

Australian Davis Cup Captain Pat Rafter named a five-man squad of Duckworth, Lleyton Hewitt, Chris Guccione, Matt Ebden and Bernard Tomic.

Hewitt is expected to play in a record-breaking 33 tie – the most of any Australian, beating Todd Woodbridge's 32 tie record.

Duckworth is seen as the leader of a group of emerging young talented Australian players who have progressed up the rankings in the last year. The 20-year-old right hander is coached by Brent Larkham and is a member of the Australian Institute of Sport.

His steady improvement took a major step at the start of 2012 when he won his first matches at the Brisbane International and the Australian Open and climbed to a career high ranking of No.167 in May (he is currently at No. 226).

"We have been watching James' progress for some time now," Rafter explained. "We have had him involved in our Davis Cup training in the past and been very impressed by his talent, attitude and his general work ethic.

"He continues to grow as a player and has had some good results on clay. He has well and truly earned this opportunity and if he keeps improving and working hard, he could very much establish himself as a long term fixture in the Australian Davis Cup team."

The Australians will name their final four-man team on the eve of the tie, which starts on 14 September at Hamburg's Rothenbaum Stadium.

"We obviously know that the German team goes in as favourites for this tie," Rafter said. "We have chosen a squad that we think will be undaunted and in great shape to fight and scrap every inch of the way, giving ourselves the best possible chance to cause an upset. We have been working all year for this tie. Don't underestimate how badly we want to get back in that World Group. But we know this is a very tough assignment."

Australia is looking to climb out of the Asia Oceania Zone 1 and back into the World Group for the first time since 2007. Since then they have lost at the play-off stage three times. They won the right to take on Germany with 5-0 wins over China and Korea during the year.

Earlier this year Germany lost 4-1 inside two days to Argentina and will be keen to stay in the World Group where it has been since 2006.

The Aussies hold a 4-2 record against the Germans but the hosts can lay claim to the most important victory of all – the 1993 Final.