Australia advanced to the Davis Cup semifinals after Nick Kyrgios beat late substitute Sam Querrey of the United States 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4 in the first reverse singles match on Sunday, clinching the quarterfinal 3-1 with a match to spare.
On a hard court at Pat Rafter Arena, Kyrgios and his singles partner Jordan Thompson gave Australia a 2-0 lead on Friday before the Americans staved off elimination on Saturday when Jack Sock, who lost to Thompson on Friday, and partner Steve Johnson beat Sam Groth and John Peers 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.
Querrey was supposed to be Johnson’s doubles partner, but American captain Jim Courier, who said it would take “monstrous effort” for the Americans to win the tie, pulled a swap, putting Sock into doubles and allowing Querrey to be fresh for Kyrgios.
That worked for a while Sunday during an evenly-played first set, but Kyrgios gradually overpowered the American with his strong serves and backhand. Querrey broke Kyrgios’ serve in the fourth game of the third set, and held to lead 4-1.
But Kyrgios stepped it up a notch and won the last five games of the match, jumping up and hugging Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt and his teammates when the match ended.
The often-volatile Kyrgios was mostly at his best behavior and won both his singles matches in straight sets, although the final two sets against John Isner on Friday were in close tiebreakers, 7-5 each time, after Kyrgios prevailed in the opening set 7-5.
“I haven’t been going back to the hotel hating the game or trying to just get through every day,” Kyrgios said. “I’m trying to get better every day, and it’s a massive difference. I just feel like I’m becoming a bit more of a professional.”
Australia will play either Belgium or Italy in September’s semifinals, with Belgium leading that quarterfinal 2-1 ahead of Sunday’s reverse singles. If Belgium wins, they will host the semifinal, if Italy comes back to claim victory, they will have to travel Down Under.
The US has won the title a leading 32 times, with Australia second with 28. But the US hasn’t won the Davis Cup since 2007, and Australia not since 2003, which was when they last made the semifinals.