It had been a bold call first-up by Hewitt as Kokkinakis is lower-ranked than two of his teammates, Purcell and Jordan Thompson, and had admitted to suffering from nerves earlier in the week when he lost to British newcomer Jack Draper after serving for the match.
“Relief, honestly, after the other day, just pure relief,” sighed Kokkinakis after this key victory.
“I’m not going to lie, I was fighting some demons there towards the end,” he added, after Stricker belatedly forged his way back into a contest that Kokkinakis had largely dominated from the start with his excellent serving, including 16 aces, and 21 winning forehands.
“If you lose, you feel like you’ve let everyone down, so it’s tough, I’m not going to lie.”
But Hewitt reckoned his faith in Kokkinakis never wavered.
“Not for a second did I doubt he was gonna go out there and do the job for us today. I had full belief that Thanasi was going to get it done.”
De Minaur, who’s risen to No.12 on the ATP computer, suffered a rude shock when broken in the opening game by world No.101 Huesler. But once he wrested control by breaking back in the sixth game, he looked in a different class, racing to his ninth Davis Cup singles win in his past 11 rubbers in just 73 minutes.
Ebden and Purcell have gone their separate ways this season as Purcell has concentrated more on his flourishing singles career, but they’ve looked like world-beaters all week, just as they were when winning Wimbledon in 2022.
Purcell, in particular, was absolutely flying against the Swiss with a quite dazzling performance.
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