Kubler takes page from Hewitt's tough book

·3-min read

At the moment, Australia's new boy Jason Kubler looks pretty unstoppable. For his Davis Cup captain, Lleyton Hewitt, he must look undroppable.

It was easy to imagine Hewitt purring with delight when he listened to Kubler's victory comments after his team's new boy had given Australia a flying start to their Cup campaign in Hamburg on Tuesday.

"When your back's against the wall, you've got to have that Australian spirit. I'm happy that I got to show a bit of mine," Kubler had noted with quiet determination after coming through moments of crisis as an understudy to eventually beat Belgian Zizou Bergs in Tuesday's opening rubber.

Ah, a man after Hewitt's own heart.

The captain was always made of the right stuff in his glittering Cup-winning career, always up for a dogfight, and the way the debutant Kubler battled to victory, after being brought in as a late replacement for the under-the-weather Thanasi Kokkinakis, reflected the skipper's old spirit.

"Kubes has had a stellar year and I was very confident for him to go out there and get the job done," Hewitt was left to reflect after Australia's commanding 3-0 win.

"We'll just assess how the week pans out now."

The question the captain faces is whether to bring in Kokkinakis, should he be over his flu-type symptoms that kept him out of Tuesday's match, or stick with a man who has enjoyed a truly remarkable breakthrough season, seemingly mastering every new challenge thrown his way.

It looks a pretty clear-cut decision, though. For even if he is currently still ranked 16 places below the world No.81 Kokkinakis, the way 2022 has panned out for former junior world No.1 Kubler, it would be hard to deny him another shot in the green and gold.

Australia's last man standing at Roland Garros, Kubler reached the last 16 in Wimbledon, made his maiden ATP semi-final in Newport and has now won 31 of his last 40 matches.

He looks impossible to leave out, especially as he beamed after his win over Bergs that it had only filled him with more confidence to be asked to open the batting for his team in Tuesday's tie.

If Australia beat France on Thursday, it will almost certainly mean 'mission accomplished' in Hamburg, effectively sealing the team's place in the finals in Malaga in November, potentially even before they have to play their last tie against hosts Germany this weekend.

The French may well go into the contest feeling dispirited, after they lost their opening match 2-1 to the hosts on Wednesday.

Adrian Mannarino had brought the French back into the tie with a 6-4 6-3 win over Oscar Otte, after the Germans had taken the lead when Jan-Lennard Struff beat Benjamin Bonzi 6-4 2-6 7-5.

It all came down to a doubles that went to the wire, before Kevin Krawietz and Tim Putz gave Germany their first win over France in the Davis Cup since 1938, beating Nicolas Mahut and Arthur Rinderknech 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-1).