Kokkinakis in as Aussies gun for Davis Cup

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Captain Lleyton Hewitt came as a surprise ahead of Australia’s Davis Cup semi-final against Croatia, bringing in Thanasi Kokkinakis to replace Jordan Thompson, the hero of their round of 16.

Kokkinakis was due to play in Tuesday’s quarter-final against the Netherlands, but Hewitt went instead with Thompson, who has an excellent Davis Cup singles record, and was vindicated by the Sydneysider’s win over Tallon Griekspoor.

As the Australians seek a place in the final for the first time in nearly two decades on Friday, Jordan was widely expected to retain their place against rejuvenated Croatian star Borna Coric, especially as he has already beaten the world No. 26.

Yet Hewitt, perhaps reflecting on the grueling nature of Thompson’s victory in three hours, instead banked on the baffling power of world No. 95 Kokkinakis, who is ranked 11 places lower than Thompson and lost his only meeting. with Coric earlier this year.

At the Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena, world No. 24 Alex de Minaur, who himself picked up a hard-fought victory in the Netherlands to seal victory, will face perennial No. 17 Marin Cilic in the decisive match. second bachelors.

Cilic, 34, was the last man to beat Minaur, who are on a six-match unbeaten streak in the competition, in last year’s group stage, won by the Croatians.

If the tie comes down to a deciding double, Australian Wimbledon champions Matt Ebden and Max Purcell will face the pair who claimed the same title in 2021, Olympic gold medalists Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic.

Australia, in their first semi-final in five years, are looking to reach the men’s tennis World Cup final for the first time since 2003, when Hewitt spearheaded the team who beat Spain 3-1 in the final. in Melbourne.

It was under the tournament’s old home and away format, best of five to five sets, but it’s the first time the Australians have played in the semi-finals of the new week of the final. the Davis Cup.

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