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Stosur to lead depleted Australian team at Olympics

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur will lead an under-strength Australian team at the Rio Olympics following the controversial withdrawals of top men's prospects Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic.

Stosur, who was eliminated from the second round of Wimbledon last week, will become Australia's first woman to compete in four Olympic tennis tournaments after making her debut at Athens in 2004.

The 32-year-old Queenslander will play singles and doubles along with world number 56 Daria Gavrilova, a Moscow-born 22-year-old who was granted citizenship last year, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said in a media release on Monday.

Top-ranked Australian Kyrgios and number two Tomic withdrew from consideration after being repeatedly criticised by Australia's Olympic team chef de mission for their conduct in the public arena.

World number 19 Tomic said he was too "busy" to compete at Rio, while 18th-ranked Kyrgios bowed out claiming mistreatment by the AOC. Both have since made the fourth round at Wimbledon.

In their absence, 20-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis will bear the country's hopes in the men's singles despite coming off a six-month lay-off from shoulder surgery in December.

World number 67 John Millman will also play in the singles.

Australia's best hope of grabbing a medal may be in the men's doubles, however, with much-improved world number 10 John Peers to team up with 48th-ranked Chris Guccione.

"Hopefully I can wear the green and gold many more times this year and in the future,” Peers, who reached two grand slam finals partnered with Andy Murray's brother Jamie last year, told The Australian newspaper.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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