Alex de Minaur raced past Marin Cilic on Friday at the Davis Cup Finals in Malaga to spark an inspired semi-final comeback victory for Australia against 2021 finalists Croatia.
De Minaur dominated his singles rubber against Cilic, breaking the World No. 17’s serve four times for a 6-2, 6-2 win that levelled the tie at 1-1 after Borna Coric had earlier defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis. Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson then delivered a stunning serving display against Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in the doubles to secure their nation a 2-1 victory in the tie and its first appearance in a Davis Cup final since 2003.
“It’s been a long time,” said Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt after his team’s victory. “Obviously we are a very proud Davis Cup nation. I’m just thrilled for these boys, they deserve to go out there and get the opportunity to play in the final of a Davis Cup, and now it’s going to happen on Sunday.”
Hewitt played in his country’s previous Davis Cup final appearance, a 2003 victory against Spain in Melbourne. Australia will take on Italy or Canada in Sunday’s final as it bids to lift the Davis Cup for the 29th time.
Purcell and Thompson were not broken once as they downed 14-time tour-level titlists Mektic and Pavic 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-4 in a raucous atmosphere in southern Spain. That win completed a turnaround victory after Coric had earlier moved Croatia ahead with a 6-4, 6-3 triumph against Kokkinakis.
“There’s nothing like it, honestly, there’s nothing like it,“ said Purcell after he and Thompson’s dramatic two-hour, 14-minute victory. “That’s the best thing I’ve ever experienced ever. Anything for the green and gold, honestly.”
“We were [just] holding serve,” added Thompson. “I feel like we did a good job of that. The opportunities weren’t coming, but we hung in there and eventually we did get a couple of opportunities and we took them on the first go each time. Doubles can change so quickly, and it did.”
What is the format for the 2022 Davis Cup Finals?
The group stage of the 2022 Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals took place across four cities — Bologna, Glasgow, Hamburg and Valencia — from 13-18 September. Sixteen nations competed in four round-robin groups of four teams. The top two teams in each group advanced to the knock-out stage. The knock-out stage is taking place in Malaga this week, with the final on Sunday.
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