Proud Aussies ride momentum into United Cup semifinal
A spirited Team Australia is preparing to face Team Germany in the United Cup semifinals at Ken Rosewall Arena.
Team Australia is riding a wave of confidence into the United Cup semifinals after a stellar campaign in Perth.
Australia fired on all cylinders en route to a 3-0 sweep of Team Serbia in the quarterfinals.
There was also an earlier victory over defending champions United States as the home team earned the opportunity to take on Germany at Ken Rosewall Arena on Saturday night.
The quarterfinal win was highlighted by Alex de Minaur’s upset win over world No.1 Novak Djokovic.
De Minaur abruptly ended Djokovic’s 43-match winning streak on Australian soil winning 6-4 6-4 in his tie. Djokovic’s streak dates back to the fourth round of Australian Open 2018, when he lost to Hyeon Chung.
“It’s hard to put into words. It’s a very good feeling,” De Minaur said post-match.
“Everything that could have gone well went well today. I’m happy that I can say I got a win over the GOAT.”
Like De Minaur, Team Australia’s captain Lleyton Hewitt is one of only three Australians to beat Djokovic. He believes the world No.11 is preparing himself in the best way possible for the upcoming Australian Open.
“To get these kinds of matches under his belt before his home Grand Slam is really important,” Hewitt said.
“He’s been working hard, working on small areas of his game as well, and it’s nice when it pays off.
“He’s gotten better and better with every match that he’s played here. His last two matches have been exceptional. That’s going to give him a lot of confidence going to Sydney, and then obviously he gets a chance to freshen up before the Australian Open.”
Storm Hunter and Matt Ebden will also go into the United Cup semifinal, and the Australian Open, in red-hot form.
Both holding top-five doubles rankings, they are undefeated as a duo at the United Cup so far.
WTA doubles world No.1 Hunter is enjoying representing her country and teaming up with another quality doubles player in Ebden.
“Representing Australia is the best feeling in the world. I love that pressure,” she said after Australia’s win over Serbia.
“It could come down to the mixed doubles in the live tie. Having Matty by my side, we have really gelled on the court. I have a lot of trust in him on the court, which makes it a lot easier.
“I love these environments. I think I play my best tennis in these team kind of situations and obviously if we’re [needed] for the mixed doubles, we will be ready on Saturday if it comes down to it.”
De Minaur is among the many who hailed the performances of the winning Australian duo, who claimed another critical win over Great Britain’s Katie Boulter and Neal Skupski.
“We got saved by Matty and Storm on day one,” said De Minaur on the team’s arrival into Sydney.
“We were not looking too good. We needed something in that mixed doubles to get us back on track and to give us some sort of chance.
“And when we needed them, they stepped up, played some incredible tennis and they got us here.
“Obviously the goal was to make it to Sydney and we’re all very happy to be here.
“It’s been great and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Ajla Tomljanovic was back to her best on Wednesday night as she defeated world No.184 Natalija Stevanović in convincing fashion.
The 6-1 6-1 win is her first at tour level since the first round of the 2023 US Open.
“Ajla has gotten better and better with each match she’s played,” Hewitt said. “For her to get the win tonight was very well deserved.”
Australia faces a tough challenge against a German team that includes former world No.1 Angelique Kerber and Grand Slam finalist Alexander Zverev.
De Minaur is the winner of only one match in seven meetings with the seventh-ranked Zverev but Hewitt noted that the signs are strong for the fired-up home favourite to achieve another career first.
“He’d never beaten Novak before either, so we’re looking forward to changing that one, too,” the Team Australia captain smiled.