Another chance to break back into the Davis Cup elite beckons after Australia grabbed an unbeatable 3-0 lead over South Korea in Brisbane on Saturday.
But it is a task that will be easier said than done judging by another unconvincing performance in its Asia-Oceania second round tie against unheralded opponents.
For the third straight year, Australia has earned a World Group play-off shot in September after doubles combination Chris Guccione and Marinko Matosevic downed Suk-Young Jeong and Jae-Min Seol 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.
The play-off draw is expected to be held next week.
However, it remains to be seen whether the 28-time winners will end a five-year drought and return to the elite 16-team group this year after another wobbly display in Brisbane.
On paper, South Korea fielded a lowly doubles line-up - Jeong is ranked 764th in the world and Seol equal 1,173rd.
After surprisingly overlooking world number 79 doubles player Matthew Ebden, Australian captain Patrick Rafter would still have been quietly confident fielding Guccione (138th) and Matosevic (260th).
But just like the opening singles rubbers on Friday, South Korea shocked Australia early before going down swinging at Patrick Rafter Arena.
"I wasn't too confident coming out on the doubles court. I really did think it was going to be Matt out there," said Matosevic, ranked 260th in doubles.
"I kept on joking around. About an hour before the tie, I said 'you've still got an hour to change it'.
"But they chose me and you saw the start - it was horrendous."
Nerves appeared to have got the better of Matosevic - playing in his first live rubber - as the world number 122 singles player made unforced error after another.
He was broken in his first game on serve and made enough mistakes to ensure Guccione suffered the same fate as they trailed 4-1 in the opening set.
They broke back but could not stop South Korea surprisingly grabbing the first set in just under an hour.
The Aussie pair looked to have finally clicked when they tore through the second in barely 30 minutes but South Korea's plucky resistance resumed.
South Korea got a break back in the third when Matosevic again failed to hold his serve but Australia held on to take a two sets to one lead.
Finally, South Korea waned in the fourth as Australia raced to victory.
"I am enjoying the moment. I think it had a lot to do with Marinko having a win in a pressure situation," Rafter said.
"Marinko is going through a lot of lessons now that 19, 20-year-olds did.
"He showed a lot of nerves, feeling the pressure of playing for your country that I felt when I did it at 20.
"I want him to start feeling it and working out how to deal with it."
While world number 18 Australia was without Lleyton Hewitt (toe) in Brisbane, Rafter would be forgiven for being concerned ahead of the World Group play-off.
Australia still boasted Wimbledon quarter-finalist Bernard Tomic and in-form world number 75 Ebden yet still battled against a depleted South Korea.
World number 31 South Korea left out its six top-ranked players for the Brisbane tie after they reportedly fell out with their federation.
Reverse singles will be played on Sunday.
Of Australia's World Group qualifying chances, Rafter said: "I rate them - I think it is a strong team".
Australia will know next week if it is drawn with Canada, Italy (both at home), Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Japan (all away) or Kazakhstan (host decided by coin toss).
AAPTags: tennis, sport, brisbane-4000, qld, australia, korea-republic-of First posted April 07, 2012 15:56:19