Aussies off to perfect start vs Belgium

·4-min read

Australia have shot to the top of Group C with a faultless 3-0 Davis Cup victory over Belgium.

Jason Kubler and Alex de Minaur gave the Aussies an unassailable 2-0 lead on Tuesday with wins in the singles.

Then Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell rounded off a perfect opening day in Hamburg with victory in the doubles against Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen.

Australia are in the same qualifying group as France and Germany, who face each other on Wednesday.

But Lleyton Hewitt's team are in pole position to finish in the top two and land a place in the Final 8 in Malaga in late November.

Davis Cup debutant Kubler beat Zizou Bergs in three sets, while De Minaur saw off David Goffin in straight sets.

Kubler, a late replacement for Thanasi Kokkinakis, who was unwell, won the first set 6-4 in Hamburg.

He suffered a wobble when 23-year-old Bergs - named Zizou in honour of soccer player Zinedine Zidane - romped through the second set 6-1.

But Kubler, cheered on by other members of the Australian team, regrouped and battled back to win the final set and take the match 6-4 1-6 6-3.

Kubler, 29, is a former world junior No.1 whose career has been blighted by knee injuries. But he has been in fine form this year, reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon, where he lost to Taylor Fritz.

Asked how it felt to win his first Davis Cup match, he said: "It feels great. To finish my debut after being a break down in the third, I'm very happy. It's a special way to start my Davis Cup career.

"We had a team meeting to decide who was going to play. Luckily, we have the options and we have confidence in all the five players.

"When I found out it was one of the things to see that the team had a lot of believe in me. It made me feel special.

"Opening the Davis Cup was a massive boost in my confidence."

Hewitt said: "He (Kokkinakis) was a little under the weather the past days but we had great confidence in Kubler. I'm happy for him to get the job done and we'll assess how the week goes on."

Goffin, 31, is a Davis Cup veteran who had won 26 of his 30 previous singles matches.

But world No.22 De Minaur swept him aside 6-2 6-2 in just 66 minutes on the hard courts of Am Rothenbaum.

"When you play Davis Cup everything goes out the window," said De Minaur. "A big factor was them being 1-0 down. I was able to play loose and make sure I was going to make it tough for him."

De Minaur, who was beaten in the third round of the US Open, added: "If it was any other event, it would have taken me longer to forget what happened in New York, but this is the beauty of a team environment.

"We have five players here who are constantly pushing each other. We have a great team and coaches. Soon as I landed here - on Tuesday - it was just get to work, prepare and all lies on that first tie.

"It worked. I forgot it, concentrated on this match and played some great tennis. I'm very happy with that."

All points are crucial in the group stage so the 6-1 6-3 victory for Ebden and Purcell could prove significant.

Ebden said: "It was only 55 minutes or so, but you're tested even when it seems easy on the scoreboard. They had a break point in the second and that was the crucial point. We were up 2-0 and then put the nail in the coffin. Couldn't ask for a better start."

Hewitt added: "France have got a very good team and can pick anyone to play singles and doubles. It'll depend on how they go against Germany. I have to prepare my team. It's gonna be tough on Thursday, but the goal is certainly to qualify."

The group stage of the Davis Cup is being played in four different European cities - Bologna, Glasgow, Hamburg and Valencia.

The knockout stage is scheduled for November 22-27 in Malaga, Spain.