Battered but not broken, Bernard Tomic and Thanasi Kokkinakis are hoping to dive back into the trenches to lead Australia to a first Davis Cup final in 12 years on Sunday night.
Australia’s semi-final with Great Britain is guaranteed to go down to the final day after the century-old rivals split the opening singles rubbers at the Emirates Arena.
British spearhead Andy Murray humbled Kokkinakis 6-3 6-0 6-3 in a sublime display of power and precision before Tomic dragged Australia back into the contest with a gruelling 6-3 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 victory over Dan Evans.
However pivotal Saturday’s pivotal doubles may be, the best-of-five-match tie will be decided in the reverse singles.
That is the only certainty.
As their nation’s respective No.1s, Tomic will take on Murray first up, with the Australian confident of recovering from his emotionally and physically draining three-hour win over Evans.
“I had a similar situation eight days ago at the US Open playing a tough first round and then playing Lleyton (Hewitt) in a five-setter, which was epic,” Tomic said after denying the inspired world No.300 in front of a full house of raucous home fans.
“I lost to (Richard) Gasquet after but you learn things, how to get treatment, how to recover better and give youself your best shot.
“At our level, anything can happen. So obviously Andy’s playing amazing tennis. It’s why he’s one of the top players in the world. He’s played so well the past five years.
“But I have to come in believing I can win. I have nothing to lose and it’s a huge opportunity for me.”
Tomic’s 15th win from 17 Davis Cup encounters has the 22-year-old projected to crack the world’s top 20 for the first time in his career and Kokkinakis believes the two-time grand slam junior champion is capable of upsetting Scotland’s dual men’s major winner.
“Me and Bernie have a very different game style,” Kokkinakis said.
“I don’t think he’s beaten him before, but Bernie’s in good form and he always seems to play well in Davis Cup – very different players, very different guys.
“We came back from 2-0 against Kazakhstan. Obviously playing Andy is a bit different, but I have confidence in my team.”
While his British counterpart Leon Smith has no alternative than to play Evans – his only singles option – again, Australian captain Wally Masur has the luxury of being able to choose between Kokkinakis, Hewitt and Sam Groth for the fifth and potentially deciding rubber.
Kokkinakis admits it’s impossible for his confidence not to have taken “a little” hit by his drubbing from Murray.
But the 19-year-old still hopes to get the nod to face Evans.
“I got killed. I haven’t lost a set 6-0 in a long time. It’s not good for the ego, that’s for sure,” Kokkinakis said.
“I’ve practised with him a fair few times and I can say that’s the best he’s ever played against me by a mile.
“I’ve got to stay resilient. I’ve got to know that whoever I play next, that there’s not too many players in the world who could go close to (Murray) if he plays like that.
“I know I had a little bit to do with him playing that well. But I think I can bounce back.
“I’ve just got to take it on the chin and move on.”