In one of his greatest performances ever, Lleyton Hewitt ensured Australia’s victory over Kazakhstan after the hosts trailed 0-2 on the first day. On Saturday, Hewitt combined with Sam Groth ro win the doubles rubber and blew a new life in the Davis Cup tie. On Sunday, after Groth accounted for Mikhail Kukushkin, the tie hinged on Hewitt’s last singles rubber against Aleksandr Nedovyesov. The veteran Australian didn’t disappoint and beat the Kazakh in three sets. Hewitt’s heroics took Australia in the semifinals, where they could face either Great Britain or France. After Friday’s double disappointment, captain Wally Masur shunned both Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis. It was a bold move by the captain as he decided to play Groth for Kyrgios and asked Hewitt to fill in for Kokkinakis. It is not often in Davis Cup that a team trailing 0-2 on Day one would bounce back to take the next three rubber and turn the tables on the opponents. Australia have done that once 76 years ago in the final against USA in 1939 and those memories were rekindled on Sunday.
Proceedings on the last day were kick-started by Sam Groth, who played the first singles rubber in place of Nick Kyrgios. In Kazakhstan’s no.1 player Mikhail Kukushkin, Groth had a tough guy but Groth knew the importance of the occasion and modeled himself to the demands of the situation. Winning 18 points on his first serve in the opening set, he obtained the only break that came his way. Groth did well to save four break points against him and just when he looked like carrying the momentum into the second set, Kukushkin fought back and forced a tiebreak in the second set. The tiebreak was keenly fought and none of the two players wanted to yield but Groth prevailed in the end to win at 8-6. The Kazakh didn’t want to give in without a fight and he broke the Australian in the ninth game of the third set and then held his serve. Groth lost the third set 4-6 but kept up the heat in the fourth set, which also went to the tiebreak. It was crunch time for Australia and Groth had to endure the pressure. Despite Kukushkin fighting with all his might, Groth called the shots in the fourth set tiebreak and won the rubber 6-3, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6.
With the tie poised at 2-2, Australia’s fate hinged on Hewitt’s performance in the last rubber. From 0-2, they had already squared and Hewitt didn’t want to yield. The veteran has a penchant for playing in back-to-the-wall situations and therefore the scenario was tailor-made for him. The 34-year old man of many seasons had one advantage; his opponent wasn’t a great name in tennis but someone, who is ranked 115 in the world. But since Aleksandr Nedovyesov defeated Kyrgios on Friday, Masur and Hewitt had a slight concern. Except the first set tiebreak that was forced by the Kazakh after he trailed 1-4, the match went largely in favor of Hewitt. But Hewitt scored in the tiebreak and caused multiple break points in second and third sets to win in straight sets 7-6, 6-2, 6-3. With this, Hewitt completed the rescue work after the Australian tennis was down in the dumps. It was another colorful leaf in Hewitt’s illustrious Davis Cup career and he should be available when Australia plays the semifinal either with Great Britain or France in September 2015.
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