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Aussies reach Davis Cup final

MALAGA, Spain (AFP) — Australia reached its first Davis Cup final since 2003 on Friday when they battled back to beat last year’s runners-up Croatia 2-1.

Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson stunned 2021 Wimbledon champions Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 6-7 (3/7), 7-5, 6-4 in the decisive doubles to hand Australia a final clash against either Canada or Italy on Sunday.

The victory was reward for the decision by Australia skipper Lleyton Hewitt — who played in the 2003 title-winning team — to pair Thompson with Purcell.

Matthew Ebden, who had partnered Purcell to this year’s Wimbledon title, had been scheduled to feature in the deciding rubber before the late switch.

“It’s been a long time,” Hewitt said. “We’re a very proud Davis Cup nation and I’m very proud of these guys. They deserve to be in the final and in with a chance of winning this thing.”

Hewitt admitted there had been a “slight injury concern” over Ebden.

“But I had no concerns about the chemistry of these two (Purcell and Thompson).”

After Mektic and Pavic claimed the 53-minute opening set in the tiebreak to nudge Croatia closer to a fourth Davis Cup final in six years, the Australian pair hit back.

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