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RUBBER #1 – Alexei Popyrin (AUS) vs Otto Virtanen (FIN)

After a straight sets loss in the quarterfinal, Lleyton Hewitt opted to replace Jordan Thompson with Alexei Popyrin for the opening singles rubber.

The Aussie was given the task of battling 22-year-old Otto Virtanen, who, despite an ATP ranking of 171, came in undefeated from his four Davis Cup singles matches this year.

Naturally nervous, playing his first Davis Cup rubber since 2021 – and in a semi-final no less – Popyrin found himself 0-1, 0-30, before settling with an important service hold.

“It's nerves that I have never experienced before in my life,” Popyrin told the media.

“The nerves of playing the first tie, the first rubber of a Davis Cup.”

“I just had to keep my head steady and just focus on my serve and try to capitalize on opportunities when they came.”

Both players continued to serve big in the opener, with the first break opportunity – and set point – coming for the Finn at 5-6, which Popyrin fought off to force a tiebreak.

Again even throughout, the Aussie rallied from 4-5 down to take it 7-5 – ultimately playing more consistent than Virtanen with just four unforced errors for the set.

With the Finn serving at 2-3 in the second, Popyrin came up with his two best points of the match consecutively to create a 0-30 opportunity and ultimately the first break of the encounter.

Riding the momentum, the 24 year old consolidated before breaking again to secure a 7-6(5), 6-2 victory – his first win in a live win Davis Cup rubber.

“At the end of the day, it's everybody's dream to play for their country,” Popyrin said.

“So, for me it really was the biggest moment of my career.” .

“It's something special and something that I'll never forget.”

RUBBER #2 – Alex de Minaur (AUS) vs Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN)

In similar fashion to his incredible comeback victory against Jiri Lehecka in Wednesday’s quarter final, de Minaur started slow against 24-year-old Emil Ruusuvuori and fell behind 2-0.

But the Aussie reset much faster on this occasion, breaking back immediately and reeling off four straight games with a series of winners.

Holding serve to take the first set 6-4, de Minaur was again under early pressure to start the second, facing a break point in his opening service game.

The 24-year-old managed to hold before breaking the Ruusuvuori serve for a third time to take control of the match.

Playing with his nation’s hopes on the line and a massive Finnish crowd in support, Ruusuvuori began to up his level late in the second set.

The last six games saw a combination of long rallies and clean ball striking which brought the absolute best out of de Minaur, as he held his nerve to clinch a 6-4, 6-3 victory and put Australia into the Davis cup Final.

“For me at least that match was a little bit of a relief,” de Minaur said post-match.

“Extreme, extreme team effort, again.”

The Aussies will meet either Serbia or Italy on Sunday, with the two nations set to face off tomorrow in a tie headlined by another Novak Djokovic / Jannik Sinner clash.

Looking ahead, Alexei Popyrin (should he be picked again) would likely face either Miomir Kecmanovic or Matteo Arnaldi – two players with a smiliar ATP ranking, creating an even matchup on paper.

Doubles pair Matt Ebden and Max Purcell would no doubt go in favourites against any possible combination, and Alex de Minaur – despite incredibly difficult opposition – can never be ruled out in the green and gold.


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