Manchester, Great Britain, 13 September 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Australia has lost its opening round-robin tie at the 2023 Davis Cup Finals.

Great Britain made the most of a home-court advantage in Manchester, recording a 2-1 victory against last year’s runner-ups.

Debutant Jack Draper provided Great Britain with a dream start, firing 24 aces in a 6-7(6) 6-3 7-6(4) victory against Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis.

The selection of 21-year-old Draper, who was coming off a career-best fourth-round run at the US Open, paid off handsomely for the British team.

Kokkinakis served for the match in the 10th game of the deciding set, but world No.106 Draper managed to fight back and close out victory in two hours and 52 minutes.

“I had golden opportunities serving for it obviously and 4-2 up in the breaker serving, but let the nerves get to me,” a disappointed Kokkinakis said.

“Hats off to him, he played some good tennis when he needed to, but it’s definitely a tough one and stings for sure.”

Dan Evans then sealed Great Britain’s win with a three-set triumph against Australia’s Alex de Minaur.

World No.27 Evans, who was selected in the No.1 position ahead of 17th-ranked compatriot Cameron Norrie, edged out a 6-1 2-6 6-4 victory.

It is Evans’ third consecutive win against world No.12 De Minaur.

De Minaur, who had won seven of his past eight Davis Cup matches, recovered from a 0-4 deficit in the deciding set, but couldn’t quite reel in Evans’ lead.

“It is disappointing that I couldn’t get it done for my country and teammates,” De Minaur said.

“Today was just one of those days, I lost to the better man.”

Matt Ebden and Max Purcell secured the final doubles rubber for Australia with a 7-6(5) 6-4 win over Evans and world No.3 Neal Skupki.

“Obviously GB won the day, but we knew a win in this last rubber could be the difference at the end of the week,” said Ebden. “So we really had to bring it.”

Teaming up for the first time since October, the Wimbledon 2022 champions enjoyed a seamless reunion.

There was only a single break in the high-quality one-hour and 43-minute encounter, with world No.8 Ebden and world No.45 Purcell striking in the final game of the match.

Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt believes his team was unlucky.

“We were awfully close to probably winning 2-1 or 3-0 if things had of went our way,” Hewitt said.

“Thanasi, that was a flip of the coin in the end and could have gone either way.

“Alex, if he could have taken his chances early in the first set, it could have been slightly different as well.”

Australia now faces France in a must-win round-robin tie (from 10pm AEST on Thursday 14 September).

France have made a strong start to its campaign, scoring a 3-0 round-robin victory against Switzerland earlier this week.

> READ: Australia’s schedule for 2023 Davis Cup Finals revealed

The top-two performing nations from the group stage will progress to the knock-out stage of the 2023 Davis Cup Finals in Spain in November, meaning Australia remains in contention.

“In this format, anything could happen,” Hewitt said.

Aussies in action – Davis Cup

Great Britain d Australia 2-1
Jack Draper (GBR) d Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 6-7(6) 6-3 7-6(4)
Dan Evans (GBR) d Alex de Minaur (AUS) 6-1 2-6 6-4
Matt Ebden/Max Purcell (AUS) d Dan Evans/Neal Skupski (GBR) 7-6(5) 6-4

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