Australia has shot to the top of its Davis Cup group after a resounding 3-0 victory over Belgium that came amid bizarre scenes in Hamburg.
Jason Kubler and Alex de Minaur gave the Aussies an unassailable 2-0 lead with wins in the singles, before Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell rounded off a perfect opening day with victory in the doubles.
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Australia are in the same qualifying group as France and Germany, who face each other on Wednesday in Hamburg, one of four European cities hosting group stage matches.
Unfortunately for the Aussies, their matches were played in front of barely any spectators, with photos of the relatively empty stadium circulating widely on social media.
Many fans were left to vent their frustrations that the cheapest tickets to watch Australia's Davis Cup tie started at 65 Euros ($A96).
The high ticket prices and the fact that neither country was playing at home undoubtedly contributed to the paltry turnout in Hamburg.
The situation sparked outrage online, with tennis fans mocking organisers for the embarrassing scenes.
— Jannik Schneider (@schnejan) September 13, 2022
Any danger of dropping ticket prices at Hamburg? They are outrageous. No wonder only 100 people are there.
— George Costanza (@GeorgeCostamza) September 13, 2022
@DavisCup is pure shite. A shadow of its former self. @david_goffin Belgium v. @alexdeminaur Australia in...wait for it...Hamburg?! No wonder the stands are EMPTY. ZERO electricity. Who would watch this? @TennisTV @lleytonhewitt was/is right.
— LocoInToronto (@LocoInToronto) September 13, 2022
Cheapest ticket for BEL vs AUS … 67,50€ … just too much … and they began the ticket-presale by selling only 2-days-tickets starting at 128,50€ … not the best price-policy … even in Hamburg, it is a vivid tennis-town, many big clubs, lots of players
— Tim Boeseler (@TimBoeseler) September 13, 2022
It is quite hard to think of a sporting tournament which has self-sabotaged itself like the Davis Cup has. Stumbled across the Belgium v Australia tie on 9Gem, which is currently being played in Hamburg in front of around 10 people.
It’s an absolute disaster-class.
— Matt (@mattcappa) September 13, 2022
— Dewulf Filip (@GraveyardFilip) September 13, 2022
The 3-0 result means Lleyton Hewitt's Aussie team are in pole position to finish in the top two and land a place in the Final 8 of the Davis Cup in Malaga in late November.
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.
Jason Kubler soaks in debut win at Davis Cup
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."
All points are crucial in the group stage so the 6-1 6-3 victory for Ebden and Purcell could prove significant.
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