WARSAW, POLAND: Australia’s six-year absence from the top tier of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is over after No. 1 Bernard Tomic defeated Polish counterpart Lukasz Kubot in straight sets 64 76(5) 63 at the Torwar Hall in Warsaw today.
The Polish team, down 2-0 after the opening singles rubbers and in serious peril of crashing out of the tie, had been cast a lifeline by their sturdy doubles pairing of Marcin Matkowski and Mariusz Fyrstenberg, who prevailed in a five-set thriller against Australian counterparts Chris Guccione and Nick Kyrgios on Saturday afternoon to keep their team in the hunt for a place in next year’s World Group.
The play-off had got off to the worst conceivable start for the host nation. Robbed of talisman and Wimbledon semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz through injury, their newly promoted No. 1 Lukasz Kubot and stand-in Michal Przysiezny were dispatched in straight sets by Australians Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic respectively on the first day of the tie.
Kubot, particularly, endured a torrid time against his Australian counterpart, struggling to hold serve and failing to contain the famously combative Hewitt’s energy and aggression.
Unfortunately for Kubot, his reverse singles rubber against the 20-year-old Tomic began far from ideally. Prepared to come to the net and try to disrupt Tomic’s strong baseline play from the outset, the world No. 70 was broken in his very first service game. Better was to follow for Kubot as he managed to save three break-points in the fifth game of the first set, but, with both players holding serve, he was made to pay for his early indiscretion and Tomic closed it out 6-4.
Playing with the authority and confidence expected of the Australian team’s top player, Tomic looked solid until the fourth game of the second set, when he dropped serve for the first time in the tie.
The previously subdued home crowd found their voices at this point and, with Kubot leaping around the court and appealing for their support, helped spur their man on to a 5-1 lead.
Tomic, undefeated in his previous two Davis Cup singles rubbers this year - in Uzbekistan in April – demonstrated great fight, however, and broke back twice himself to level the set at 5-5 before prevailing in the tie-break, 7-5.
To his credit, Kubot, never gave up nor did his supporters ever desert him, but coming back from two sets down against a now fired-up Tomic was too great a task. Broken early again, Kubot lost the set 6-3 to hand the Aussie the match and the Australian team the tie.
The victory ensures Australia, 28-time winners of the Davis Cup, will once more play at the highest level of the competition. “We couldn’t be happier to get back to the World Group, it’s huge for us,” observed Tomic after the match.
“We want to make a stand again and feel like we should be part of it,” his captain Pat Rafter said of their return to the elite group of 16 nations.
For Poland, 2014 will see them compete once more in Europe/Africa Zone Group I.
Kubot believed that he and his team would be stronger for the experience of playing in this weekend’s play-off. “We have to sit with the team right now and look at what was good and what was bad and learn from our mistakes.”
“Hopefully then the next time we’ll have the chance next year [of qualifying for the World Group] and we are all going to fight for it,” he added.
The fifth match of the day, a dead rubber between 18-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios and Polish No. 2 Michal Przysiezny ended prematurely in the first set, a result of the Pole suffering stomach problems. As the Aussie youngster was 4-1 ahead at the time, he was awarded the match, giving Australia a 4-1 victory.
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