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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

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HomeAustralliaThompson, De Minaur...

Thompson, De Minaur get Aussies into Davis Cup semis


Jordan Thompson and Alex de Minaur have taken a leaf out of their captain Lleyton Hewitt’s book, fashioning brilliant backs-to-the-wall singles wins to propel Australia into the semifinal of the Davis Cup in Malaga.

Thompson vindicated the tough call from Hewitt to choose him ahead of Thanasi Kokkinakis for the opening singles match of Tuesday’s quarterfinal against the Netherlands by coming from a set down to defeat Tallon Griekspoor 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Then de Minaur continued his remarkable run of success in the World Cup of men’s team tennis in an equally compelling contest, winning his ninth singles rubber in his past 10 outings, also having to rally to beat Dutch number one Botic van de Zandschulp 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.

It sealed Australia’s triumph 2-0 without Wimbledon champions Max Purcell and Matt Ebden being required to win a deciding doubles, and set up their first last-four clash in the Davis Cup for five years as they aim for a 29th title — 19 years since they last won in 2003.

On Friday, they will face either hosts Spain, the six-times champions, or Croatia for a place in Sunday’s final.

Thompson, brought in late by Hewitt, produced a battling performance that earned him a big hug from his captain — and he admitted that his skipper’s presence on the team bench felt inspirational.

“Of course, I’d missed the Davis Cup, and I was extremely honoured [to learn I’d been picked]. Of course, I’d do anything to win in the green and gold and I hadn’t played since March 2020,” Thompson said.

“Me and Alex, we looked up to Lleyton. I think probably for both of us, [he was] our tennis idol.

“So to see him on the side of the court and having his same fighting spirit is something I’m sure he loves to see.

“When he’s on the sideline, I couldn’t feel more comfortable.”

As expected, Australian skipper Lleyton Hewitt was animated on the sidelines as his team sealed a spot in the Davis Cup last four.(AP: Joan Monfort)

Thompson was evidently considered by Hewitt to be a better bet first up than Kokkinakis, who has only had 10 singles matches since the start of July and is ranked 11 places below Sydney’s world number 84.

Yet it was Griekspoor who took the game to the Aussie, his powerful forehand giving him early control, but Thompson had more joy working to the 26-year-old’s backhand in the second stanza.

Still, as Griekspoor began to visibly tire in an epic 80-minute set that featured one game lasting nearly a quarter of an hour, there was a crisis point for Thompson when the Dutchman earned a break point at 5-5 which may have felt like a match point if he had converted.

But when Thompson held, then won the set with a flashing backhand pass, he was in control — and a break in the fifth game of the decider proved crucial as he went on to prevail after a near three-hour dogfight.

Australian tennis player Alex de Minaur points his finger at the crowd after his win in a key Davis Cup match.
Alex de Minaur’s win over Botic van de Zandschulp clinched victory for Australia in their Davis Cup tie against Netherlands.(Getty Images: Quality Sport Images / Pedro Salado)

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