Bernard Tomic completed an impressive Davis Cup return as Australia clinched victory over Uzbekistan on Sunday to advance to September’s World Group playoffs.
Tomic defeated Uzbek No.1 Denis Istomin in the opening reverse singles match on clay in Namangan to give Australia an unassailable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five Asia/Oceania second round tie.
It capped a welcome return for the top-ranked Australian, who initially planned to skip the tie before patching up his frosty relationship with Australian captain Pat Rafter.
The 20-year-old also defeated Farrukh Dustov on Friday to get Australia off to a strong start, while Lleyton Hewitt and Matt Ebden secured a crucial doubles win in five sets on Saturday.
The win ensures Australia will get a shot at returning to the competition’s top tier for the first time since 2007.
Tomic was able to take advantage of a tiring Istomin, who was playing for the third straight day and spent four hours on court in the gruelling doubles loss.
The tough Uzbek claimed a tight first set but from there it was all Tomic as he stamped his authority on the choppy Pahlavon Sport Complex court.
“He played some of the best tennis I’ve seen him play,” Rafter told AAP after the match.
“To play two great matches in a row now, that was really important for him.
“… Everything went perfectly, it’s actually ridiculous how it was. I’m very proud of the guys.”
Rafter’s side will face a yet-to-be-determined opponent from September 13-15, with the winner qualifying for the World Group in 2014.
Australia has failed in the playoffs for the last four years but the performance in Uzbekistan has Rafter confident a well-balanced team is capable of ending the drought.
Rafter has disciplined both Tomic and Marinko Matosevic in the past for attitude, but was pleased with how both conducted themselves in challenging conditions.
Matosevic was gallant in a four-set defeat to Istomin on Friday.
Uzbekistan’s reliance on their top two meant Australia was able to employ smart tactics, with the decision to rest regular spearhead Hewitt from the opening day’s singles working out.