SYDNEY -- Germany advanced to the United Cup final in dramatic fashion after winning the decisive mixed-doubles rubber to seal a 2-1 win over Australia. After clinching the win after 2:00 a.m., Germany will face Poland in the final on Sunday.

Former No.1 Angelique Kerber came from a set down and saved two match points to defeat Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(7) to earn the first win of her comeback and give Germany an early 1-0 lead. Australia responded with a rousing victory from Alex de Minaur, who backed up his win over No.1 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 win over Alexander Zverev. 

With the tie sent to the deciding mixed doubles, Zverev teamed with Laura Siegemund to save two match points and beat Storm Hunter and Matt Ebden 7-6(2), 6-7(2), [15-13] as the clock struck 2:19 a.m.

Kerber's opening win over Tomljanovic set the table for Germany's victory. Kerber dominated the head-to-head over Tomljanovic going into the match, having won all six sets the two previously played. Their first meeting since 2021 began with a lengthy service game that saw Kerber break through to get the early advantage. But with the partisan crowd backing her, Tomljanovic reeled off five consecutive games to build a 5-1 lead.

Bidding to notch her first victory since her 18-month maternity layoff, Kerber battled back. But a poor service game ended with a forehand that drifted wide, and Tomljanovic closed out the opener after 53 minutes.

Buoyed by her three-game surge in the opening set, Kerber locked in to start the second set. She snuffed out the Australian's momentum by shifting to a more aggressive return position. The adjustment allowed Kerber to dominate Tomljanovic's service games and race through the set to force a decider.

New mom Kerber taking a more relaxed approach in comeback

But with the home crowd behind her, Tomljanovic continued to battle back. With Kerber serving at 4-3, the World No.292 won a lung-busting 25-shot rally to open the game. When Kerber struck her first double fault of the night at 15-40, Ken Rosewall Arena erupted and Australia was back in the mix.

After Tomljanovic broke Kerber as the German served for the win at 6-5, the match went to a deciding tiebreak. From 5-3 down, Tomljanovic earned two match points with blistering backhand winners, but could not convert either chance. Given a reprieve, Kerber came back to seal the thrilling win after 2 hours and 34 minutes.

"I just tried to play as many matches as possible before going to Melbourne," Kerber said. "I tried to learn from my last three matches. Coming out here and winning such a tough battle means a lot to me. It means a lot to have a match like this before going to the Australian Open."

De Minaur earned his third consecutive win against a Top 10 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings after claiming victories against American Taylor Fritz and World No.1 Djokovic of Serbia. With his triumph over World No.7 Zverev, De Minaur is now guaranteed to break into the Top 10 himself for the first time on Monday, becoming the first Australian since United Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt in July 2006 to do so.