Aussies alive and into Davis Cup final four

AUSTRALIA’S hopes of a 29th Davis Cup title – and its first in two decades – remains alive after reaching the semi-finals of the knockout stage. The green and gold scraped into second of their round robin group stage to qualify for the eight-team finals series, then upstage Czech Republic in a come-from-behind victory.

Despite missing Nick Kyrgios, it was the top-ranked Aussie Alex de Minaur who led the team to glory in the quarter finals, coming from a set and break down to roll in-form Jiri Lehecka 4-6 7-6 7-5 and level the scores in the tie. In the earlier match, rising Czech Tomas Machac defeated second Australian singles player Jordan Thompson, 6-4 7-5.

In the deciding doubles, reliable pairing Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell teamed up to defeat Lehecka and Adam Pavlasek in straight sets, 6-4 7-5 to send the green and gold into the semi-finals. World number 40 Alexei Popyrin is the other Australian team member at the event.

Aussie captain Lleyton Hewitt was always known for his grit and ability to come back from the jaws of defeat, and he credited de Minaur with having the same quality.

“I prided myself on a never-say-die attitude and he’s certainly in the same category,” Hewitt said. “For him to go out there and put the boys on his back again, we’re so proud of him. He had to dig really deep and yet again saved us.”

Though he was in trouble at times, de Minaur backed himself to work his way into the contest.

“The only time I felt a little bit of an opportunity, when he lowered the level a bit, was the first point serving for it. I got a little sniff. I was ale to play a solid game there, and after that, I felt like the whole momentum kind of changed.

“I think my reputation is quite strong when it comes to these types of situations. It kind of precedes me. Maybe I won because of that today. I think it would have been quite easy for me to roll over under the circumstances, but that’s just not the type of player I am. I have had plenty of these types of matches in my career. It’s part of my identity. I’m not going to give up. I’m going to fight until the end.”

Australia faces Finland in the semi-finals after the giant-killers continued their winning run with a stunning upset of world number ones and reigning champions, Canada in the quarter finals. Finland has never won a Davis Cup but booked its place in the last four thanks to an impressive display by Otto Virtanen against Gabriel Diallo and then teaming up with Harri Heliovaara in the doubles.

In the other semi-final, Italy will take on Serbia after the nations took down Netherlands and Great Britain respectively. Jannik Sinner was the star coming off his ATP Final appearance with a smashing performance in the singles and then doubles with Lorenzo Sonego to reach the final four.

Meanwhile Serbia wrapped up its tie with two hard-fought singles wins as Miomir Kecmanovic and Novak Djokovic both won in straight sets over British duo, Jack Draper and Cameron Norrie respectively.

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