Davis Cup 2023: Great Britain defeat 2022 runners-up Australia in group opener
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Get the latest match results and updates from Great Britain's opening tie at the Davis Cup Finals Group Stages against Australia at Manchester's AO Arena.
Result: Great Britain 2-1 Australia
Jack Draper (GBR) won vs Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-6(4)
Dan Evans (GBR) won vs Alex De Minaur (AUS) 6-1, 2-6, 6-4
Great Britain got off to a flying start in Group B at the Manchester AO Arena - defeating the 2022 runners-up and second seeds Australia 2-1 thanks to some brilliance from Jack Draper on his debut and Dan Evans. Both players beat higher ranking opponent's against Thanasi Kokkinakis and world No.12 Alex De Minaur - showing their strength in the pressure moments to come through three-set battles.
Despite losing the doubles rubber, the Brits now find themselves second in the group, behind France, who they face on Sunday in front of a sell-out crowd.
Match three: Australia grab lifeline in doubles
With France having won 3-0 the day before against Switzerland, the Brits knew that clinching the final doubles rubber could prove important for the overall standings.
Returning to court after just a short break from his singles, Evans was soon put to the test with a 10-minute opening service followed by two break points off the Skupski serve.
With little to split between the pairs, they held their way to a first set tie-break. The British duo set themselves up with a 5-3 lead, but were unable to see it out, with Ebden and Purcell pulling off four consecutive points.
The second continued in similar fashion to the end of the first – both sides holding with ease as another tie-break looked increasingly likely.
However, at 4-4, Evans and Skupski couldn’t find the killer blow on a brace of break points at 15-40. This proved to be the decisive moment of the match – with the Aussies getting their hold, they quickly turned their attention to Skupksi’s serve and got their chance to see off the win. On a second match point, Evans’ volley landed millimetres past the baseline, giving Australia a much needed rubber on the board.
Match two: Evans defeats world No.12 to guarantee British win
Dan Evans sealed the win for Great Britain against Australia with an impressive 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 win over world No.12 Alex De Minaur.
"It was amazing, thank you for all your support," he said. "I love playing in front of you all and I get another chance in about 30 minutes!
"I knew the tie was not over if I lost and Jack played an amazing match and got us off to an amazing start and that made my job easier."
Evans looked full of energy from the start of his clash with the highest ranked player in Group B. The Brit saved break point on his opening service game, before pulling 3-0 ahead having broken the Australian to love.
Coming in off the back of winning the biggest title of his career at the Citi Open last month, Evans continued to frustrate De Minaur, once again coming back from 15-40 down to hold as the Brit’s winner count hit 10 in just five games.
The British No.2 has built a 2-0 lead in their head-to-head record and took one step closer to making it the hat-trick with a hold to see out the first set in 40 minutes.
Wasted opportunities were the story of the first set for De Minaur but at 2-1 up in the second, the Australian finally clinched his sixth break point with a killer forehand winner. At 5-1 down, Evans showed glimpses of his level from the first set, but the Australian closed it out with his third break of the set.
Evans channelled the home crowd to come out on top in the high-pressure moments of the of the deciding third set. With the ball staying low on the AO Arena court, Evans used his trademark backhand slice to his advantage – forcing a key error from De Minaur to break in the first game.
From 4-0 down, De Minaur quickly turned the score back around to 4-3 as nerves around the stadium continued to grow – but not for Evans. The Brit stayed ice cool in one of the biggest moments of his Davis Cup career so far and let out a huge roar to the crowd having served out the win in two hours and eight minutes.
Match one: Draper completes comeback to beat Kokkinakis on GB debut
Jack Draper’s first match for Great Britain at the Davis Cup ended in victory as the 21-year-old came from a set down to beat Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-6(4).
"It was a real battle," he said. "There's an amazing crowd in here. It was amazing to play my first Davis Cup tie here and I'm so happy Leon trusted me and put me out here today."
The new LTA Colour Holder No.323 has become the 71st British player to win a Davis Cup singles match for Great Britain and the first to do so on debut since Cam Norrie in 2018.
In the first meeting between the two, Kokkinakis made arguably the stronger start in an otherwise tight opening set, winning 97% (28/29) points off his first serve, including a set point for Draper at 5-4.
Making his debut for the Brits in front of a packed-out home crowd, Draper recovered an early mini break at the start of the tie-break, but with the scores locked at 6-6, the Aussie found the perfect angle off a volley drop shot, before seeing out the set with yet another impressive serve.
Draper responded instantaneously in the second – capitalising on an uncharacteristically poor service game to claim the first break off the match and set himself up for the comeback. With the challenge of playing from in front for the remainder of the set, Draper dropped just two points off his final four service games and breaking for a second time to wrap up the set.
Despite Draper being on top for most of the third set, Kokkinakis thought he had found the defining breakthrough at 4-4 following several costly unforced errors from Draper, giving the Australian the chance to serve it out. Over to Kokkinakis to rack up his error count – hitting four on a crucial service game to bring it back to 5-5.
After nearly two hours and 50 minutes and with the scores locked at 4-4 in the deciding tie-break, Draper found the strength to lift his game one final time. The world No.106 hit three consecutive winners, including a rifled forehand down the line on match point, to see out one of the biggest moments of his career so far.