TENNIS: Nick Kyrgios took Australia on an express-route ride back to the Davis Cup semi-finals for only the second time in a decade by clinching the tie against the United States at Pat Rafter Arena.
Kyrgios, who has polarised Australian tennis lovers, rode a wave of noisy support from a home crowd who were chanting his surname after pulling off a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-4 win over American substitute Sam Querrey.
It clinched Australia's third and decisive win in the quarter-final and made it the third team in the semi-finals, joining France and Serbia.
Australia made the semi-finals in 2006 and 2015 and won our last title in 2003.
For Kyrgios to win all six sets of tennis in his two matches against top-25 players John Isner and Querrey encapsulated the tennis growth this year of the world No.16 since his miserable Australian Open loss.
Kyrgios, so often seen as a lone wolf in world tennis, was swamped by teammates after serving his 20th and 21st aces on the last two points of the match.
The 21-year-old picked up his beaming captain Lleyton Hewitt and carried him back to a huddle of teammates.
"There were a lot of emotions, a lot of ebbs and flows, and the crowd were great again," Kyrgios said.
"I had a bit of a flat patch in the third set, but Lleyton said to compete for every point and it's easy to get up with a crowd like that behind you.
"I was hurting physically and they (the physios) did well to keep me in good shape so we could get into the semi-finals."
Belgium led their home tie against Italy 2-1 and if they advance, their semi-final against Australia in September would be in Belgium.
But an Italian win would see the semi-final played in Australia under Cup rules.
It would see Tennis Australia consider bringing a semi-final back to Rafter Arena within the space of five months, with Perth and Sydney other alternatives.
To return to Rafter Arena, TA would have to convince the International Tennis Federation to grant an exemption from its Cup rule that semis must be played at a stadium with a minimum capacity of 8000, 2500 more than the Tennyson facility which hosted about 15,000 over the three days this week.
Kyrgios was given an hour's official notice under competition rules that he would face another opponent rather the nominated Jack Sock in the fourth match.
American Davis Cup captain Jim Courier made the substitution, putting Querrey, the third-ranked of his team's four top-30 players, into the match as a replacement for Sock, the highest-ranked singles player in the tie at No.15.
Kyrgios lost a quarter-final to the big-serving Querrey five weeks ago in Acapulco, Mexico and the Americans obviously believe his game style could disrupt the Australian No.1.
Sock had played nine sets of singles and doubles on the previous two days and Australia suspected Querrey, 29, would be given his first match in the quarter-final as Kyrgios's opponent.
Australia is viewed in Europe as a serious contender to win a first Davis Cup since 2003, also the year of the country's last trip to the final.
third favourites last night in European betting markets to win this year's Davis Cup, behind only Serbia and France.
"We have a massive opportunity and anything is possible this year," Kyrgios said.
Kyrgios saved a set point at 5-6 in the first after having been down a break of serve at 2-4.
The Australian's service efficiency fluctuated in the first set and a half, although he found a 220km/h ace to save the set point.
He clocked a 221km/h ace when down a break point in the first game of the second set.
His level of play dropped in the third set, when Querrey held break points in three service games, but took the set.
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