Australia in stunning five-year first at Davis Cup after epic display

Jordan Thompson and Alex de Minaur, pictured here in action at the Davis Cup.
Jordan Thompson and Alex de Minaur helped Australia advance to the Davis Cup semi-finals. Image: Getty

Jordan Thompson and Alex de Minaur have produced a pair of stunning comeback victories to send Australia into the semi-finals of the Davis Cup. Thompson and de Minaur both battled back from a set down in their singles ties against the Netherlands on Tuesday in Malaga.

Thompson vindicated the tough call from captain Lleyton Hewitt to choose him ahead of Thanasi Kokkinakis for the opening singles match of Tuesday's quarter-final, defeating Tallon Griekspoor 4-6 7-5 6-3. De Minaur then continued his remarkable run of success in the World Cup of men's team tennis, winning his ninth singles rubber in his last 10 outings to beat Dutch No.1 Botic van de Zandschulp 5-7 6-3 6-4.

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De Minaur's win gave Australia an unassailable 2-0 lead, meaning Wimbledon champions Max Purcell and Matt Ebden weren't required for a deciding doubles rubber. The victory set up Australia's first semi-final berth in the Davis Cup in five years as they aim for a 29th title - 19 years since they last won in 2003.

Australia will either face Spain - the six-time champions - or Croatia on Friday for a place in Sunday's final. Thompson, brought in late by Hewitt, produced a battling performance that earned him a big hug from his captain - and he admitted that his skipper's presence on the team bench felt inspirational.

"Of course, I'd missed the Davis Cup, and I was extremely honoured (to learn I'd been picked). Of course, I'd do anything to win in the green and gold and I hadn't played since March 2020," Thompson said afterwards.

"Me and Alex, we looked up to Lleyton. I think probably for both of us, our tennis idol. So to see him on the side of the court and having his same fighting spirit is something I'm sure he loves to see. When he's on the sideline, I couldn't feel more comfortable."

Thompson was preferred by Hewitt over Kokkinakis, who has only had 10 singles matches since the start of July and is ranked 11 places below Sydney's World No.84. But it was Griekspoor who took the game to the Aussie, his powerful forehand giving him early control before Thompson had more joy working to the 26-year-old's backhand in the second stanza.

As Griekspoor began to visibly tire in an epic 80-minute set that featured one game lasting nearly a quarter-of-an-hour, there was a crisis point for Thompson when the Dutchman earned a break point at 5-5 which may have felt like a match point if he'd converted. But when Thompson held, then won the set with a flashing backhand pass, he was in control - and a break in the fifth game of the decider proved crucial as he went on to prevail after a near three-hour dogfight.

Jordan Thompson, pictured here being congratulated by Lleyton Hewitt after winning his singles rubber in the Davis Cup quarter-finals.
Jordan Thompson is congratulated by Lleyton Hewitt after winning his singles rubber in the Davis Cup quarter-finals. (Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images)

Tennis world in awe as Aussies advance at Davis Cup

De Minaur was just as impressive, coming up with his finest tennis in a crucial penultimate game hold littered with dazzling winners from both players. But after missing out on a break point, van de Zandschulp's spirit seemed to sink as he then coughed up a double fault en route to being broken to love.

"It feels great. It was a hell of a fight," de Minaur said. "Jordan played his heart out and it really inspired me. I just fought to the end, a never-say-die attitude."

In the other quarter-finals, Italy will take on the United States while Germany take on Canada. Fans flocked to social media in awe of the incredible Aussie display.

with AAP

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