SYDNEY, January 9, 2020 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
Australia were among the earliest teams to reach the quarter-finals of the inaugural ATP Cup. On Thursday, after a nail-biting tie against Great Britain in Sydney, the hosts became the first team to reach the semi-finals.
And a great part of this victory was due to Nick Kyrgios’ efforts. The Australian No. 2, who has been playing his heart out throughout the event, added more descriptiveness to his purpose in Thursday’s tie.
Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur — a late substitute to Australia’s otherwise preferred doubles team of Chris Guccione and John Peers — came through a marathon against the British team of Joe Salisbury and Jamie Murray.
The home team saved four match points in the third set to win 3-6, 6-3, 18-16 to remain in contention in the event.
🇦🇺 #TeamAustralia = first into the semifinals!@alexdeminaur/@NickKyrgios put on a gusty performance to outlast Murray/Salisbury 3-6 6-3 [18-16] and punch the final four ticket.#ATPCup | #Final8 | #GBRAUS pic.twitter.com/d7doEkPswn
— ATPCup (@ATPCup) January 9, 2020
The win vindicated Aussie captain Lleyton Hewitt’s decision to pick de Minaur to play doubles after his lengthy singles battle against Dan Evans. Especially, since Australia lost the opening set after taking an early break.
The scepticism surrounding Hewitt’s call was also because the doubles rubber had come to be a must-win for both teams. With the tie scores tied at 1-1 after Evans’ 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(2) win over the Australian No. 1 in three hours and 23 minutes, it was expected that Guccione and Peers who had a 3-0 record in the event would be the first choice for the former World No. 1.
Earlier, before de Minaur’s tough rubber, Kyrgios gave Australia the lead in the tie. The World No. 29 needed just an hour and 12 minutes to defeat Cameron Norrie 6-2, 6-2.
“I love the ATP Cup. I love any sort of team format. I’m just taking it one match at a time. I’m not even thinking about the Australian Open or what time of the year it is,” Kyrgios said. “I’m just doing whatever I can and whatever I can do in my power to get the best out of the team and myself.”
Australia await Spain or Belgium in the semi-finals.