Davis Cup: Australia advances to November finals
Australian defeats Switzerland 3-0 in a brilliant day in Manchester to progress to the Davis Cup Finals in November.
Australia’s Davis Cup team has produced a stellar display to whitewash Switzerland in a must-win tie and roar into the quarterfinals of the men’s world team competition.
The team, captained by Lleyton Hewitt, knew they would guarantee its ticket to the eight-team knock-out finals in November with a 3-0 win over Switzerland in the final group stage tie in Manchester.
Thanasi Kokkinakis, Alex de Minaur and the doubles pairing of Max Purcell and Matt Ebden duly obliged with scintillating performances.
“I’m extremely proud of the boys – the effort, the backs-against-the-wall motto of being able to fight our way out of it and see the big picture,” said Hewitt of the Australian team, which took a 1-1 record into the Saturday tie after a loss to Great Britain and victory over France earlier in the week.
“They were able to do it and they deserve it. ”
It means Australia, who finished runners-up last year, will return to Malaga in November, with eyes set on going one better than last year.
A winner of 28 Davis Cup titles overall, Australia aims to lift the title for the first time in 20 years since Hewitt led them to victory as a player.
“We gave ourselves a great opportunity last year and the boys got a taste for it,” said Hewitt on court in Manchester. “We want to try and push a little bit harder and see if we can climb that mountain and I feel like I’ve got the boys that are able to do that.”
Hewitt’s decision to keep faith in Kokkinakis paid off handsomely as the Adelaide powerhouse – who suffered a three-set loss to Great Britain’s Jack Draper on Wednesday – defeated Dominic Stricker 6-3 7-5 in the opening rubber.
“I had full belief that Thanasi was going to get the job done today,” said Hewitt. “It was a matter of him getting mentally and physically ready.”
Australian No.1, De Minaur, then continued his proud record in the green and gold, outplaying Marc-Andrea Huesler, who was named for Switzerland ahead of three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka.
De Minaur’s 6-4 6-3 win over Huesler sealed Australia’s second overall victory of the week following their 2-1 win over France.
“It’s something we don’t take for granted … every time he steps on the court he leaves it all out there,” a proud Hewitt related of De Minaur, who won six of seven Davis Cup singles rubbers in Australia’s runner-up performance in 2022.
“He is the leader of this team out on the court and he makes my job so much bloody easier having him there, that’s for sure.”
There was a sense of inevitability about the reunited ‘M & M’ pairing of Ebden and Purcell winning the third straight rubber of their undefeated week, as they outclassed Stricker and Huesler 6-2 6-4.
It had been a bold call first-up by Hewitt as Kokkinakis is lower-ranked than two of his teammates, Purcell and Jordan Thompson, and had admitted to suffering from nerves earlier in the week when he lost to British newcomer Jack Draper after serving for the match.
“Relief, honestly, after the other day, just pure relief,” sighed Kokkinakis after this key victory.
“I’m not going to lie, I was fighting some demons there towards the end,” he added, after Stricker belatedly forged his way back into a contest that Kokkinakis had largely dominated from the start with his excellent serving, including 16 aces, and 21 winning forehands.
“If you lose, you feel like you’ve let everyone down so it’s tough, I’m not going to lie.”
De Minaur, currently sitting at a career-high world No.12 in the rankings, was broken in the opening game by world No.101 Huesler, but once he wrested back control by breaking back in the sixth game he was always in control.
He secured his ninth Davis Cup singles win in his last 11 rubbers in just 73 minutes.
Ebden and Purcell, meanwhile, have taken different paths on tour this year, with the younger Australian concentrating more on his flourishing singles career.
They’ve looked like world-beaters all week again, just as they were when winning Wimbledon in 2022.
Purcell, in particular, was absolutely flying against the Swiss with a quite dazzling performance.
> READ: Team dream – Max Purcell targets next step in Davis Cup https://bit.ly/3LkPOzx
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