After surprisingly falling 0-2 following Friday’s singles, Australia was condemned to do something that they had not accomplished since… 1939: mounting and completing the comeback.
Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt started the job on Saturday, with a straight-set doubles win. It seemed only fitting that Wally Masur would continue with the veterans on Sunday, and he did exactly that.
Instead of going with the best-ranked player of the tie, world N°41 Nick Kyrgios, to face Mikhail Kukushkin, Masur opted for Sam Groth, ranked 68th in the world and very solid on grass, to face the World N°63. A gamble that paid off for the Australian captain.
In his very first live rubber, Groth played a superb match, even winning all of the points with his first serve in the first set, and defeated Kukushkin 6-3, 7-6(6), 4-6, 7-6(6) in 2h51 to force a decisive fifth rubber. “This is the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had in tennis. It’s unbelievable”, said an emotional Groth after the match.
And who else but Lleyton Hewitt to go out and face Aleksandr Nedovyesov?
He might be 34 years of age and ranked outside the top 200, but Rusty is all but rusty when it comes to this kind of occasion and he rose up to it supremely.
Attacking, grinding and “come oning” like in his best days, Hewitt defeated Nedovyesov 7-6(2), 6-2, 6-3 to clinch the tie for Australia and send them into the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time since 2006. “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”, declared the Aussie veteran.
Hewitt concluded with some inspiring words of wisdom: “This is what dreams are made of – we’ve given ourselves a chance to be in the semifinals this year.”
Australia now awaits the winner of the tie between Great Britain and France. A victory from the Brits will have them play away, whereas they would be playing at home against France.
(Quotes via Tennis Australia; Photos: Getty Images)