Australia are eyeing an unlikely place in the ATP Cup semi-finals after Alex de Minaur defeated Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini to trigger a 2-1 comeback victory.
De Minaur rebounded on Sunday after a 2021 season interrupted by Covid-19, beating world number 7 Berrettini 6-3 7-6 (7-4).
Next Tuesday, Australia’s No.1 male will face US Open champion Daniil Medvedev in a battle against Davis Cup champions Russia.
Drawn in the tournament’s strongest group alongside Italy, France and Russia, John Peers and Luke Saville sealed the surprise victory with a 6-3 7-5 win over Simone Bolelli and Berrettini doubles at the Ken Rosewall Arena.
Australia’s Max Purcell was comfortably beaten by elegant world No.10 Jannik Sinner 6-1 6-3 in the opening singles match.
“This is what you work hard for, playing on your pitch in front of your friends and family playing for Australia,” said a touched de Minaur, who fell to 34th in the world after reaching a career high of 15 during last year’s turf season.
âThere is no greater honor and it brings out the best in me. It is not about how many times you are knocked down, but how many times you are knocked down and get up again.
âThat’s what I want to keep doing. I haven’t had the best year [in 2021]. I’ve had a few setbacks, bad luck and the Covid, but I’m back and ready to have a big year.
âI want to bring it to these better guys and really own the pitch, but playing in front of a home crowd is an amazing atmosphere. This tribunal gives me incredible memories. It is definitely my favorite field to play.
âI had an amazing preseason and hit the ball really well and it’s great to be able to go out there and perform. I feel in the best shape of my life and I will cherish this and take it to the field with me and be ready to take on any challenges that come at me.
A win over Russia would put Australia in the box for a place in the final ahead of a clash against France on Thursday.
They expect world number 2 Medvedev to pose a tougher challenge than he offered on Sunday, when he was shocked by Frenchman Ugo Humbert in the singles before teaming up with Roman Safiullin to seal a victory 2-1.
“They did extremely well in their game today, especially with Medvedev losing, which few would have predicted,” said Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt.
âWe have to do the right thing and recover. We will have a light day tomorrow [Monday] and then give us the best opportunity in a few nights. It will be in the other arena, which will be slightly different, but we will do our best, but we are looking forward to these opportunities against the top teams.