Hero Lleyton Hewitt keeps Davis Cup dream intact
LLEYTON Hewitt's dream of ending his career with a fairytale Davis Cup victory is alive after Australia came from 2-0 down to beat Kazakhstan 3-2 in the quarter-finals in Darwin.
The 34-year-old, who made his debut in the tournament in 1999, was brought in as a late replacement for teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis and proved too good for world No.115 Aleksandr Nedovyesov, taking out the deciding rubber 7-6 6-2 6-3 to put Australia into the semi-finals.
Earlier in the day, youngster Nick Kyrgios, who lost to Nedovyesov in a lacklustre display in Friday's singles, was replaced by big-serving Sam Groth, who got Australia back into the tie with a 6-3 7-6 4-7 7-6 win against Mikhail Kukushkin.
That provided the perfect storyline for Hewitt to seal the win with his 42nd Davis Cup singles triumph.
"I love the back-against-the-wall situation. That's what we had after day one," Hewitt told Channel Seven after his victory.
"We had to rally together and find a way to get the win.
"I've always said some of my greatest wins are in Davis Cup and some of my toughest losses are in Davis Cup, so I'm going to enjoy this one. This is what dreams are made of."
Groth, who partnered Hewitt to victory in the doubles, was just as excited after he kept the tie alive by beating Kukushkin.
The 27-year-old world No.68 saved three set points in the second set and one in the fourth, his 29 aces ultimately proving too much.
"This is probably the most amazing thing I've ever had in tennis," Groth said. "It's unbelievable."
While the final day selections proved a masterstroke by Australian captain Wally Masur, he would no doubt prefer to have a committed Kyrgios and even Bernard Tomic to call on for the semi-finals.
That will be an away tie in September against the winner of the clash between Great Britain and France.
Great Britain led 2-1 after the opening singles and doubles, with world No.3 Andy Murray winning his singles and combining with brother Jamie to take out the doubles. The other semi-final will see Argentina take on Belgium after both countries scored comfortable 3-0 victories.
Argentina beat Serbia, which was without world No.1 Novak Djokovic, and Belgium proved too good for Canada, which was missing Milos Raonic.
- APN SPORTS BUREAU