Hewitt caps historic Davis Cup comeback
19 July 2015
LLeyton Hewitt vs Aleksandr Nedovyesov
Lleyton Hewitt has produced a vintage Davis Cup performance to clinch Australia’s place in the World Group semifinals.
Hewitt’s 7-6(2) 6-2 6-3 victory over Aleksandr Nedovyesov clinched a 3-2 victory for Australia over Kazakhstan in Darwin.
It was a remarkable result given the Aussies trailed 0-2 after two singles losses on the opening day of play on Friday.
It is Hewitt’s first ever victory in a live fifth rubber, and the first time since 1939 that Australia has recovered from such a deficit to win a Davis Cup tie.
Following Hewitt and Sam Groth’s victory in the doubles on Saturday to keep Australia alive, Hewitt was subbed in to the decisive fifth rubber in the place of Thanasi Kokkinakis, after Groth had levelled the tie at 2-2 with victory in the first of the reverse singles.
Despite dropping a 4-1 lead in the opening set, Hewitt held firm in the first set tiebreak and then ground his 115th-ranked opponent into the grass.
He played aggressively when he needed to and was also a model of consistency against a dangerous yet erratic opponent.
When he clinched victory on his first match point, the veteran collapsed to the court before being embraced by his teammates Groth, Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios, who all charged onto the court in celebration.
“This is up there,” Hewitt said in his on-court interview.
“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.
“I’ve always said some of my greatest wins are in Davis Cup … I’m going to enjoy this one.”
Australia advances to a World Group semifinal tie against either Great Britain or France; the Brits currently lead their tie 2-1, being held on grass at London’s Queen’s Club.
The semifinal will be staged in September. It is Australia’s first appearance at this stage of the competition in nine years.
“We worked so hard to put ourselves in a position in the World Group again,” Hewitt said.
“We didn’t panic when we were 2-0 down and we took it one match at a time.
“This is what dreams are made of – we’ve given ourselves a chance to be in the semifinals this year.”
Sam Groth vs Mikhail Kukushkin
Australia will play off for a Davis Cup semifinal berth in a live fifth rubber after Sam Groth levelled the tie against Kazakhstan at 2-2 on Sunday.
Playing in his first live singles rubber for Australia, Groth played superb attacking tennis to beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3 7-6(6) 4-6 7-6(6).
In the first match of the reverse singles, Groth replaced Nick Kyrgios, who had lost his match on Friday.
And he proved a worthy inclusion, using his powerful serve and traditional net-rushing tactics on grass to overwhelm the Kazakh.
Kukushkin was no pushover; the visitor played intelligent, error-free tennis for much of the match, and held a set point in the fourth set tiebreak to send the match into a decisive fifth set.
But shrugging off the fact that he had led two sets to love, Groth served his way out of trouble and then played a forcing point on his first match point, drawing an error from Kukushkin and celebrating wildly.
“We’ve still got one more to go,” an emotional Groth told host broadcaster the Seven Network.
“This is the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had in tennis. It’s unbelievable.”
Groth served 29 aces, many of them in clutch situations.
“My serve is something I rely on. It’s my biggest strength,” he said.
“It came through under pressure, especially in that fourth-set tiebreak.”
Lleyton Hewitt will face Aleksandr Nedovyesov in the live fifth rubber.
Australia has not recovered to win a Davis Cup tie from 0-2 down since 1939.
Australia have kept its Davis Cup title hopes alive with a clutch doubles win in its clash against Kazakhstan in Darwin.
Trailing 2-0 in the quarter-final tie after Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios lost their singles matches on Friday, Australia had no room for error.
Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth didn’t let their country down, with the pair combining to beat Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-4 7-6(4) 6-2.
Australia still trail 2-1 in the tie, meaning they need to win both of their singles encounters on Sunday if they are to reach the semifinals.
Hewitt and Groth celebrated with a big hug after wrapping up the match in two hours, 25 minutes.
“It’s up there,” Hewitt replied when asked what the win meant to him.
“I haven’t played too many doubles matches at 2-0 down when the pressure’s on.
“Sam and I combined really well today. This is Grothy’s first win in a live rubber, so it’s fantastic to be out here to enjoy it with him.”
Groth’s powerful serve was crucial, but Hewitt’s sharp returns proved to be the ultimate difference.
“We didn’t want it to be all over today,” Groth told host broadcaster Seven Network after the match.
“Thankfully Lleyton put me on his back and carried me there.”
Kyrgios vs Nedovyesov
Aleksandr Nedovyesov has stunned Nick Kyrgios in four sets to put Kazakhstan 2-0 in its Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against Australia.
Nedovyesov triumphed 7-6(5) 6-7(2) 7-6(5) 6-4 over a lacklustre Kyrgios, who served for a two sets to one lead only to get broken in the 10th game.
The Kazakh, ranked 115th but who has in good grasscourt form after qualifying for Wimbledon, served strongly and advanced on the net with plenty of success to outplay the world No.41.
The loss followed on from Thanasi Kokkinakis’ straight-sets defeat at the hands of Kazakh No.1 Mikhail Kukushkin.
“Physically I felt ok. I felt like my body was good. But mentally, I almost felt a bit drained out there,” Kyrgios said.
“It was hard to focus. It was hard to dig deep. It was hard to push myself because a lot has gone on.”
Of his inability to hold serve at a crucial point in the contest, Kyrgios conceded: “That hurt me mentally a lot.
“When you’ve got a chance to serve out the third set and give your team a chance to level up the tie – I blew that chance, which wasn’t great.”
Australia must win Saturday’s doubles rubber and both of its reverse singles matches on Sunday if it hopes to progress to September’s World Group semifinals.
Kokkinakis vs Kukushkin
Australia trails Kazakhstan 1-0 in its Davis Cup quarterfinal in Darwin after Thanasi Kokkinakis was overwhelmed by Kazakh No.1 Mikhail Kukushkin.
Kokkinakis was beaten 6-4 6-3 6-3 in just over two hours, with the 19-year-old no match for world No.63 Kukushkin.
Nick Kyrgios has the chance to level the tie when he takes on Aleksandr Nedovyesov in Friday’s other singles rubber, with Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt to team up for Saturday’s doubles.
Kokkinakis made a nervous start to Friday’s match, needing to save two break points on his first service game before he could get on the board.
Kukushkin managed to snare a vital break on Kokkinakis’ next service game, and he broke the youngster yet again early in the second set.
Kokkinakis launched a brief fightback in the second set before being broken again, and the world No.69 lost the first 12 points of the third as Kukushkin raced towards victory.
The young Australian did manage to stave off three match points in the eighth game, erasing a 0-40 lead with big serving to force Kukishkin to serve out the match.
The Kazakh had no such troubles when he stepped up to the line to do so, closing out the game at love – and the match – with a forehand winner.
Kokkinakis struggled to keep pace throughout the contest during which his first serve abandoned him.
“I wasn’t able to find my game. And when I found it in the second set, I got broken straight back, which killed me,” Kokkinakis said.
“I didn’t find my rhythm today.
“I’m taking it pretty hard at the moment. I’m pretty disappointed.”