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Germany win doubles to lead Australia in Davis Cup
Tim Puetz and Jan-Lennard Struff won a thrilling doubles clash on Saturday to give Germany a 2-1 lead after the second day of their World Group Davis Cup tie against Australia in Brisbane.
The German duo silenced the partisans at Pat Rafter Arena as they overcame John Peers and Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-7, 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 in just over three-and-a-quarter hours.
The Germans made a late switch to their doubles team, bringing in Struff for Peter Gojowcyzk.
Struff played alongside Puetz in the World Group play-offs against Portugal last year, when they also won in five sets.
He also made the semi-finals of the Australian Open in doubles last month.
But it was the lesser known Puetz who shone on a gloomy Brisbane afternoon.
The 30-year-old, who is ranked 140 in the world in doubles and 293 in singles, was the more solid of the German pairing.
"He's in their team for a reason. They're a world class team and we know to expect the best from them," Ebden said.
German captain Michael Kohlmann said he made the switch once he knew Australia had decided not to bring Nick Kyrgios in for Ebden.
"In my mind Peers and Ebden hadn't played together before, or not a lot, and I knew my guys know each other pretty well," he said.
"In Davis Cup it's not only about the tennis, it's also about how you put your emotions together, how you connect.
"And in this I had a feeling that my guys would connect better together."
The best of five series hinges on Sunday's first reverse singles between each country’s number one player. Kyrgios will take on Sascha Zverev.
"We are in a good position, 2-1 up, but we know it's not all over," Kohlmann said.
"I think that if Nick is on form, he's tough to play for everyone to play against, not just Sascha. I guess that Nick is not orthodox, not a rhythm player. That makes it difficult for Sascha.
"Being 2-1 up might change the mental game and the mental game right now is pretty big."
If Kyrgios can level the tie, the decider will likely be between Struff, the world number 58, and 18-year-old Alex de Minaur, who is ranked 81 places below him.
"We're a long way from beaten," said Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt. “Sunday is going to be a big day but the boys are looking forward to it."