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Rubber #1 – Jordan Thompson (AUS) vs Tomas Machac (CZE)

Despite having higher-ranked options available, team captain Lleyton Hewitt opted for the experienced Jordan Thompson to open the tie for Australia.

With a strong Aussie team supporting courtside – including doubles pair Matt Ebden and Max Purcell, the injured Thanasi Kokkinakis and his replacement Alexei Popyrin, as well as ATP Finals partners Jason Kubler and Rinky Hijikata – Thompson was broken in his opening service game.

Even after fending off a series of further break points throughout the first set, the 29-year-old was unable to level, dropping it 6-4.

Looking to improve a 2-20 record in 2023 from a set down, the Aussie was inconsistent and at times quite loose, ultimately hitting thirty-three unforced errors with just sixteen winners throughout the contest.

Down 5-4 in the second and needing a break back, Thompson played his best tennis of the match to level at 5-5, only to give the break straight back and go down 6-4, 7-5.

Rubber #2 – Alex de Minaur (AUS) vs Jiri Lehecka (CZE)

Holding Australia’s Davis Cup hopes in his hands, Alex de Minaur was no doubt ready to continue his strong Davis Cup record as he entered centre court in Malaga.

But 22-year-old Jiri Lehecka – who has enjoyed a breakout season filled with upsets – came out aggressive and looked eager for another big scalp.

A combination of powerful hitting from the Czech and a lack of assertion from De Minaur saw him quickly down a set and a 4-2.

His fighting spirit on full display, the Aussie created a series of break point opportunities at 4-3, but unable to take them, ‘Demon’ had to break Lehecka as he served for a place in the Davis Cup semi-finals.

And that he did – winning the Czech’s serve to love and carrying the momentum into a tiebreak which he took 7-2.

A deciding set full of momentum shifts saw the Aussie race to a 2-0 lead, suddenly seeming in full control of the match.

But with a strong Czech crowd in full voice, Lehecka won fifteen of the next nineteen points, which saw ‘Demon’ again facing three break opportunities at 2-3, 0-40.

Reeling off five straight points for a significant hold, the Aussie kept the match on serve before finding a crucial break of his own at 5-5 through some trademark De Minaur defence.

Over two and half hours from the opening point, the 24-year-old held his nerve to level the tie and keep Australia alive with an incredible 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-5 victory.

“It was definitely a special one. I hope everyone in the team, everyone back home sees what it means to represent your country,” De Minaur said post-match.

Rubber #3 – Matt Ebden/Max Purcell (AUS) vs Adam Pavlasek/Jiri Lehecka (CZE)

But all ‘Demon’s’ heroics would have amounted to nothing if Matt Ebden and Max Purcell could not close out the tie in the deciding doubles.

The 2022 Wimbledon champions were in control of the rubber from the outset – breaking at 3-3 and serving their way to a one-set lead.

With Purcell’s net craft and the pair’s serving gameplan on clear display, the Aussies again found a crucial break late in the second and powered to a 6-4, 7-5 tie clinching victory.

“We didn't want [Demon] to go and come back for nothing. That would have been pretty disappointing,” Purcell told the media.

Australia will now meet Finland on Friday in Malaga – a matchup that looks favourable on paper but will undoubtedly be difficult against a large contingent of Finnish fans.


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