Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev delivered the opening points for Australia and Germany on Friday and the doubles match always carries an extra weight when the result is locked up at 1-1. Tim Puetz and Jan-Lennard Struff gained the second point for their country, beating Matthew Ebden and John Peers 6-4 6-7 6-2 6-7 6-4 in 3 hours and 17 minutes to move Germany a win away from the place in the quarters. Tim and Jan-Lennard were in the German's squad last year against Portugal as well, earning an important doubles point that helped them go through, and this might turn out to be the crucial rubber if Germany scores one singles win tomorrow.
Peers and Ebden never played together before and it was clear on the court, as they were unable to find the right rhythm and put Germans under more pressure. It could have been different if they managed to convert more break points but Puetz and Struff fend off seven out of eight they faced, defending the second serve nicely and prevailing in the most important points.
They created 13 break chances and five breaks of serve were enough to push them through, scoring the crucial one in the seventh game of the decider. The first set was a close one and the Germans clinched it with a break in game nine, serving well in the following game for a 6-4.
They broke their rivals again in the fifth game of set number two, serving for the set in game 10. Ebden and Peers saved two set points to grab their first break of the match, winning the set after a commanding tie break that went to their side by 7-1.
Puetz and Struff recovered swiftly from this setback, breaking twice in a row in the third set for a 6-2, moving a set away from the finish line. Ebden and Peers were there to compete and they saved two break points at the start of the fourth set, staying neck and neck with their opponents until the tie break which they won 7-4 to force the deciding set.
There, Germans had to dig deep to stay unbroken in game six, fending off three break points and breaking the Aussie on their fourth chance in the following game that pushed them 4-3 in front. Matthew and John had two more break points in game eight but it wasn't to be for them, Tim and Jan-Lennard saved both and they wrapped up the triumph with a hold at love in game 10 to bring the second point for their country.
Australia vs Germany (Brisbane, Outdoor Hard) 1-2
After they split the opening singles rubbers on Friday, Japan and Italy were engaged in a tight doubles match today, with Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli beating Ben McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-5 6-7 7-6 7-5 in 3 hours and 37 minutes to gain a 2-1 lead before Sunday's encounters. Bolelli and Fognini played together for the ninth time and this was their seventh win, using all of their experience to oust the persistent Japanese squad. They were equally good on the first serve but the Italians made the difference with the second, winning 65% of the points and saving five out of six break points they faced. The Japanese fired 15 aces and they had to play against just five break points, dropping serve three times to end on the losing side.
The first set was fast and fluid, with easy holds on both sides, and we saw one break point for each squad. Simone and Fabio saved a break point in game seven and they earned the break in the best possible moment, just before the tie break to grab the opener 7-5. Ben and Yasutaka bounced back in the second set, breaking in game three to serve for the set at 5-4. Italians broke back at 15 to extend the set and their chances but the Japanese grabbed the tie break 7-4 to level the overall score and bring more drama. The third set was a tight one as well and the Italians fend off two set points in the 12th game to bring it home in the tie break by 7-3 to move closer to the finish line. Bolelli and Fognini managed to avoid the fifth set after saving two break points in games five and 11, and they sealed the deal with a crucial break in game 12, converting their second match point to send Italy 2-1 in front.
Japan vs Italy (Morioka, Indoor Hard) 1-2