Hamburg: Teenager Bernard Tomic had to come from behind to give Australia a 1-0 lead in their Davis Cup World Group play-off match against Germany here on Friday.
In an epic opening singles rubber which lasted three hours and 17 minutes, Tomic sealed a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) win over Germany's Cedrik-Marcel Stebe as Australia bid to return to the World Group for the first time since 2007.
Stebe, ranked 127th in the world, upset the form book by taking the first set 6-2 against 19-year-old Tomic, who is ranked 42nd, after breaking the Australian early.
After a slow start, Tomic responded impressively by taking the second, then the third sets at Hamburg's clay-court Rothenbaum stadium.
Feeling the pressure, Stebe, 21, made 25 unforced errors in the third set alone which lasted 61 minutes, but quickly tightened his game considerably.
The fourth set went down to a tie-break after Stebe raced into a 3-0 lead, buoyed by the home crowd, but Tomic twice broke back to make it 4-2 before the Australian leveled at 4-all, then held his nerve to win the tie-breaker.
In Friday's second and final singles match, former world number one Lleyton Hewitt, now ranked 100th in the world, faces top German Florian Mayer, ranked 25th.
Hewitt was part of the Australia team which last faced Germany in the Davis Cup 12 years ago when the hosts enjoyed a 3-2 quarter-final win on grass in Adelaide.