Hewitt caps fairytale comeback
Lleyton Hewitt has produced a vintage Davis Cup performance to clinch Australia's place in the World Group semifinals.
Lleyton Hewitt has produced a vintage Davis Cup performance to clinch Australia’s place in the World Group semifinals.
Hewitt’s 7-6(2) 6-2 6-3 victory over Aleksandr Nedovyesov sealed a 3-2 victory for Australia over Kazakhstan in Darwin.
It was a remarkable result given the Aussies trailed 0-2 after two singles losses on the opening day of play on Friday.
It is Hewitt’s first ever victory in a live fifth rubber, and the first time since 1939 that Australia has recovered from such a deficit to win a Davis Cup tie.
Following Hewitt and Sam Groth’s victory in the doubles on Saturday to keep Australia alive, Hewitt was subbed in to the decisive fifth rubber in the place of Thanasi Kokkinakis, after Groth had levelled the tie at 2-2 with victory in the first of the reverse singles.
Despite dropping a 4-1 lead in the opening set, Hewitt held firm in the first set tiebreak and then ground his 115th-ranked opponent into the grass.
He played aggressively when he needed to and was also a model of consistency against a dangerous yet erratic opponent.
When he claimed victory on his first match point, the veteran collapsed to the court before being embraced by his teammates Groth, Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios, who all charged onto the court in celebration.
“This is up there,” Hewitt said in his on-court interview.
“I love the back-against-the-wall situation, and that’s what we had after Day 1 … we had to rally together and find a way to get the win.
“I’ve always said some of my greatest wins are in Davis Cup … I’m going to enjoy this one.”
Australia advances to a World Group semifinal tie against either Great Britain or France; the Brits currently lead their tie 2-1, being held on grass at London’s Queen’s Club.
The semifinal will be staged in September. It is Australia’s first appearance at this stage of the competition in nine years.
“We worked so hard to put ourselves in a position in the World Group again,” Hewitt said.
“We didn’t panic when we were 2-0 down and we took it one match at a time.
“This is what dreams are made of – we’ve given ourselves a chance to be in the semifinals this year.”