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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday November 24, 2023


Alex de Minaur clinched victory over Finland on Friday in Malaga, sending Australia to the Davis Cup final.

Photo Source: Getty

Alexei Popyrin and Alex de Minaur put Australia on the brink of its 29th Davis Cup title on Friday.

Popyrin, who said he had never felt so nervous, calmed his nerves to defeat Finland’s Otto Virtanen, 7-6(5), 6-2 to give the green and gold the 1-0 lead. Davis Cup stalwart De Minaur finished the deal for Lleyton Hewitt’s side, defeating Emil Ruusuvuori, 6-4, 6-3.

Tennis Express

Australia, who finished runner-up at Davis Cup in 2023, will face either Serbia or Italy in the final – the two nations will contest their semifinal on Saturday at 1200 local time in Malaga.

28-time champion Australia (and 49-time finalist) has not won the Davis Cup since 2003.

The victory, the first in a live Davis Cup rubber, was the most meaningful of Popyrin’s career.

“It's nerves that I have never experienced before in my life, the nerves playing the first tie, the first rubber of a Davis Cup, winning my first live rubber of a Davis Cup,” he said. “I just had to keep my head steady and just really focus on my serve and try to capitalize on opportunities when they came.”

Popyrin improved to 2-1 lifetime at Davis Cup. He had last won in 2019, in a dead rubber against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“For me it really was the biggest moment of my career to get the first live rubber win, to get one foot into the final. Yeah, for me, it was something that I'll never forget,” he said.

"Alexei stood up when he needed to today. That was a big day for him, big result. Super proud of him," Captain Hewitt said. "He got his opportunity today and he took it with both hands."

Virtanen entered Friday’s clash touting a 5-0 record at Davis Cup in 2023. He had his chances in the opening set, earning a set point with Popyrin serving at 5-6, 30-40. But the Aussie won the next four points to get out of trouble and took a tight tiebreak for a one set to zero lead.

“If I managed to win the first set, the story would most likely be another story, most likely,” Virtanen lamented.

Despite the loss, the 22-year-old World No.171 takes a ton of positives from his play at Davis Cup in 2023.

“For the whole year, I think all the Davis Cup matches I played this year has been very good for my career, for the year,” he said.

In the second rubber, Deminaur fought through adversity several times during his encounter with Emil Ruusuvuori, making it ten wins in his last 12 Davis Cup rubbers with a tie-clinching win.

The 24-year-old improves to 15-6 overall at Davis Cup. He has emerged as the leader of Lleyton Hewitt’s team, and spearheaded Australia’s comeback win in the quarterfinals by rallying from a set down to defeat Jiri Lehecka with his team trailing 1-0 to Czechia.

"For me at least that match was a little bit of a relief," De Minaur said. "Extreme, extreme team effort, again, as Lleyton said. Alexei coming out, not having played for Australia in three to four years, coming out to play a semifinals against a guy that's ranked 170 but plays like a top-50 player and came out with a huge, huge win."


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