Australia has endured a horror start to their Davis Cup finals campaign, losing their opening tie to Croatia in emphatic fashion.
The format of the 18-team tournament sees each of the six group winners advance to the knockout stage, as well as the best two second-placed teams. Lleyton Hewitt’s men now need to quickly regroup before they play Hungary in two days’ time.
But even a perfect result in that tie may not be enough – because of the cutthroat nature of the group stage, every match, set, and game is vital – and losing all three matches and only one set across them puts Australia firmly behind the eight ball.
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First, Borna Gojo beat Alexei Popyrin in straight sets, 7-6, 7-5, before Alex de Minaur lost to Marin Cilic in three, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.
Alex Bolt was originally nominated to partner John Peers in the doubles match against Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, but was replaced by De Minaur at the last minute.
The Croatians won easily, 6-3, 6-1.
It’s the second iteration of the tournament in its current format. Australia lost at the quarter-final stage in 2019.
In the other two opening group stage matches played this morning (AEDT), Sweden won a perfect six sets out of six against Canada, while France and the Czech Republic traded singles wins and are currently locked in a tense doubles tie.
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