Hewitt heroics give Aussies hope

Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt helped keep his team’s hopes alive in their Davis Cup World Group play-off against Austria after nominating himself to play in the doubles rubber in Graz.

The 37 year-old partnered John Peers to a crucial 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory over Jurgen Melzer and Oliver Marach after the Aussies suffered two defeats in the singles on Friday in the best-of-five-match tie.

Hewitt, who made his Davis Cup debut 19 years ago, retired in 2016 but returned to playing doubles earlier this year.

He had originally nominated Jordan Thompson alongside Peers but his decision to play himself proved to be a master stroke against a high quality Austrian pairing.

“I think our preparation was the key today,” Hewitt said. “We knew exactly how we wanted to play today and played it perfectly right from the start. They were the ones who had to try to change things. We backed our best tennis against their best tennis and that’s how it played out.”

Stefan Koubek, the Austrian captain, said he’d been impressed by Hewitt’s tennis.

“You’ve got to have a lot of respect for Lleyton,” he said. “What he did today was awesome. He was returning like he used to on his best days earlier in his career. He was motivated, he was giving his heart for Australia and it’s amazing to see.”

Meanwhile, Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot bounced back from a set down to win their doubles match and put Great Britain ahead in their tie against Uzbekistan in Glasgow.

The British pair beat Denis Istomin and Sanjar Fayziev 4-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-2, 6-3 to leave the hosts needing victory in only one of today’s two singles rubbers.

“We were fighting hard in the first couple of sets but couldn’t quite find a break,” Murray said. “We were so close to being two sets to love down, then we relaxed a bit and played really well in the last two sets.”

Murray, the US Open mixed doubles champion, and Wimbledon doubles semi-finalist Inglot were favourites to beat the Uzbeks ranked 448 and 472 in doubles.

However, Istomin and Fayziev broke in the third game before taking the first set.

Neither duo could make a breakthrough in the second set until Istomin netted in the tie-break to hand it to the British pair. The Uzbeks had held set point at 8-7 before the Britons won the next three points.

Murray and Inglot had to wait until the third game of the third set to secure their first break of the match but after doing so they never looked back.

“It got a little bit dicey but we kept it together,” Inglot said. “After we got that second set we were able to settle a little bit and the crowd really got involved and helped us out, so thank you so much.”

After Saturday’s doubles rubbers in the other World Group Playoffs it was:

Argentina 3 Colombia 0
Canada 2 Netherlands 1
Hungary 2 Czech Republic 1
Japan 3 Bosnia-Herzegovina 0
Serbia 3 India 0
Switzerland 1 Sweden 2