Photograph: Getty Images
Australia has qualified for the Davis Cup Finals after Thanasi Kokkinakis won the deciding rubber 6-4, 6-4 against Hungarian Zsombor Piros on Ken Rosewall Arena.
It was an emotional moment for Kokkinakis who won his first match for Australia since defeating Britain’s Dan Evans back in 2015.
Kokkinakis let out a huge roar and flexed to the crowd after securing the deciding victory for Australia.
“It’s been a long seven years since I’ve played Davis Cup and this is incredible,” Kokkinakis said on court following the victory.
“Playing in this atmosphere, the cheer you guys brought before that final service game gave me goosebumps.
“I have full confidence in the guys, Demon’s (Alex de Minaur) our leader, unbelievable week from him too - some really high-quality matches.
"He puts Australia on his back time and time again so I had to try and do my part. All the boys, we’ve had a great week and I want to thank Lleyton for trusting me, as I said it’s been a long time since I’ve played.
"To play a fifth rubber at home, it’s incredible. I get nervous but knowing that these guys give it their all every time, it makes me want to come out and perform.”
Kokkinakis broke Piros in the very first game of the match and skipped away to take the first set without facing a break on his own serve. In fact, the Aussie didn’t face a breakpoint for the whole match as he was almost unstoppable on serve.
Fittingly, he sent down an ace to secure the win - his ninth for the match.
It’s been a whirlwind start to 2022 for Kokkinakis who won his first ATP title in Adelaide and won the Australian Open doubles title with good mate Nick Kyrgios. Now, he has won a deciding singles rubber to send Australia to the Davis Cup Finals.
“I couldn’t have asked for more to start the year,” Kokkinakis said.
“Davis Cup is so different. In those singles tournaments you’re playing for yourself but here it feels like you’ve got the whole country backing and supporting you, it’s a different type of pressure but…it’s something you’ve got to get used to.
“Having the support is unreal and to play it at home is sick.”
Australian Davis Cup Captain Lleyton Hewitt was glad that the team made it through to the finals following the win.
“I’m so proud. This wasn’t an easy tie to come back for and play and these guys made a hell of an effort to come back here,” Hewitt said post-match.
“They did all the preparation that Crabby (Jaymon Crabb), Rochey (Tony Roche) and myself put them through to give them the best possible chance of coming out here and playing well.
“They’ve done that this weekend and they deserved to get the win today and it’s fantastic to be back in the finals at the end of the year.”