Jason Kubler only got the chance to pull on Australian colours for the United Cup because Nick Kyrgios ditched the campaign within 24 hours of it getting underway.
But at Sydney’s Ken Rosewall Arena on Friday night, the world No.107 stunned world No.27 Dan Evans to seize Australia’s first win of the tournament.
Kubler grabbed the opening set 6-3 but quickly began to struggle, dropping the first five games of the second set.
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However, what followed were five game wins in succession and, shortly after, a tiebreak.
Kubler held Evans to three points in the tiebreak to complete an enthralling 6-3, 7-6 (3) victory, snaring a win for Australia in its last singles match of its first-round tie against Great Britain.
The 29-year-old said he drew inspiration from co-captain Lleyton Hewitt and teammate Alex de Minaur — past and present Australian sportsmen synonymous with tenacity.
“It’s tough to give up when you’ve got Rusty (Hewitt) on the bench and Demon (de Minaur),” Kubler said in his on-court interview.
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“They have that never-say-die attitude and I just hope that I can replicate that in my matches. Any time I’m down, especially in front of these guys, I’ve just got to give it my all.
“Luckily tonight I was able to turn it around. It’s not very often you turn (around) a 5-0 down, so I’ll definitely remember this one.”
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Kubler sealed victory with a crunching forehand and let out a mighty roar.
But so engrossed in the heroics was the Ken Rosewall Arena crowd that Kubler’s celebration could not be heard, onlookers cheering wildly for the triumphant underdog.
“He showed the heart of a champion out there from 5-0 down in the second set,” said former English tennis professional Mark Petchey in commentary.
Kubler had also defeated Evans at Wimbledon this year, overcoming his higher-ranked opponent 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 in the round of 128.
Kubler’s win on Friday night followed de Minaur’s disappointment in his Cameron Norrie clash, Zoe Hives’ defeat to Katie Swan and Maddison Inglis’ loss to Harriet Dart.
In the last match of Australia’s tie against Great Britain, Sam Stosur and John Peers toppled Dart and Jonny O’Mara 7-6 (4), 6-4.
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