Former top player in the world rediscovers some of his old magic in crucial tie.
Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt inspired Australia to a five-set doubles victory to take the edge over Uzbekistan in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group one second round tie in Namangan on Saturday.
Hewitt, rested from Friday’s opening singles, partnered Matthew Ebden to battle out a 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over the Uzbek pairing of Denis Istomin and Farrukh Dustov.
The hard-fought win gave the 28-time Davis Cup winners Australia a 2-1 edge heading into Sunday’s two reverse singles to decide the tie on clay.
The winner of the tie advances to September’s World Group playoffs as Australia bid to return to the competition’s top tier for the first time since 2007.
Hewitt, the former Wimbledon and US Open champion, was playing with Ebden for the first time. They were the fresher pair after Istomin and Dustov were backing up from playing in Friday’s singles.
The Uzbeks broke Hewitt’s serve in the third game of the opening set.
But the Australians fought back to 3-3 and pounced on Istomin’s service game at 6-5 to take the first set.
The home side rallied to take the second in a tiebreak but another crucial break on Istomin’s serve late in the third set put Australia 2-1 up.
Istomin and Dustov fought back to send the match to a deciding set but Hewitt and Ebden fought off their threat.
The Australians secured a crucial early break, from 0-40 down, and held off the Uzbeks, with a crucial hold from 0-40 down on Hewitt’s serve to reach 5-2.
Ebden served out for the rubber with the victory improving Hewitt’s doubles record in the competition to 14-3.