A disappointing show in opposition to Croatia has left Australia’s hopes of reaching the Davis Cup quarter-finals in disarray.
Alex de Minaur’s mid-match singles resurgence couldn’t spare Australia from a whitewash Davis Cup defeat to Croatia, leaving its quarter-final hopes in tatters.
Croatia’s world No. 1 doubles pairing Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic secured a 6-3 6-1 demolition of John Peers and de Minaur to full a 3-0 victory.
Australia should now depend on beating Hungary 3-0 in two days’ time, in addition to for Hungary to defeat Croatia in the identical dominant style to have any probability of making it out of group D.
The tie began in the worst method doable, with younger gun Alexei Popyrin struggling a shock defeat to world No. 276 Borna Gojo – changing the injured Borna Coric – in a match Australia had to win.
Popyrin later described his 7-6(7-5) 7-5 loss as “probably the most painful” of his burgeoning profession after he clinched a good three-setter over the identical opponent in Melbourne in February.
“I had chances in the first set, had chances in the second set, but it was, I guess, just one of those matches where he was just really feeling his serve,” Popyrin stated.
“He served a really high percentage, he served really well, didn’t hit many second serves at all in the match, didn’t give me much to go off.
“I got those opportunities just based off my returning. I think he played much better than he did in Melbourne, to be honest. He’s a good player, and his ranking doesn’t really justify his level.”
De Minaur, who gained solely 4 of his earlier 14 matches main into the Davis Cup finals, wanted to beat 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic to preserve Australia’s hopes alive however shortly fell behind.
The 22-year-old – immediately re-energised and bringing group captain Lleyton Hewitt to his ft – rallied from a set and 1-3 down to pressure a deciding set in opposition to Cilic after which surged 2-0 forward.
At that stage, Cilic was drowning in errors after a superb begin as de Minaur clinched the break with an outrageous, squash-like half-volley that handed the Croatian and clipped the alternative baseline.
But Cilic steadied once more and powered previous de Minaur to publish a 6-1 5-7 6-4 triumph.
“I came out with Marin playing some incredible tennis for probably a set-and-a-half,” de Minaur stated.
“I managed to dig in, dig deep, find something out there to try to fight my way and claw my way back into the match.
“I managed to somehow sneak that second set, and I’m just disappointed I wasn’t able to consolidate the break and get a point for Australia.
“That’s what really hurts me. If I go out there and I finish the job in that sense and can come away with the win, then maybe this doubles is completely different.”
Hewitt changed Alex Bolt with de Minaur in a determined bid to get one thing out of the tie, however he and Peers had been no match for Pavic and Mektic.
“It’s obviously disappointing (and) not the way we would have liked to have started the campaign,” Hewitt stated.
“But Croatia played extremely well in all three matches, to be honest.
“Their No. 2 guy (Gojo) played well above his ranking. We had seen him play quite a bit. We knew when he’s on, he’s extremely tough. He obviously has a big serve.
“It could have been a different story if Alexei took some of those chances early in the first set, but then Borna got confident as the match went on … which put a little bit more pressure on Alexei.”