Tennis: Australia head over heels after victory

Australia's Nick Kyrgios carrying Alex de Minaur off the court following their 2-1 quarter-final win over Britain yesterday. They will play Belgium or Spain in the semi-finals on Saturday. PHOTO: REUTERS
Australia's Nick Kyrgios carrying Alex de Minaur off the court following their 2-1 quarter-final win over Britain yesterday. They will play Belgium or Spain in the semi-finals on Saturday. PHOTO: REUTERS

De Minaur stars in five-hour battle that ends with 18-16 epic tiebreaker in doubles decider

SYDNEY • An euphoric Nick Kyrgios lifted Alex de Minaur over his shoulder and carried him off the court yesterday.

His teammate had spent five hours on court in back-to-back matches for Australia.

The 20-year-old saved four match points before losing to Briton Dan Evans in a 3hr 23min encounter. He made amends, though, helping to save another four match points before winning the deciding doubles in a 3-6, 6-3, 18-16 super tiebreaker against Britain at the inaugural ATP Cup in Sydney.

The 2-1 victory ensured that the hosts became the first team to book their berth in the semi-finals on Saturday.

The team's run is also coming at a time when Australia need some good news, amid catastrophic bush fires sweeping across the country.

Kyrgios gave Australia the lead with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Cameron Norrie in the opening singles, before Evans beat de Minaur 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), meaning the result would hinge on the doubles.

Captain Lleyton Hewitt's gamble by sending his two singles players back out against the established pair of Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury, however, paid off.

After the match, Kyrgios said in a TV interview he would celebrate with red wine. At a post-match news conference, the temperamental 24-year-old was still in a buoyant mood, clearly thriving in the team environment - and being in the rare position of being the calmer member of the squad.

"It was unreal. You know, the adrenaline has kind of worn off and I'm exhausted," he said. "But it was awesome. It was honestly, today was one of the best moments in my career, definitely."

De Minaur and Kyrgios, who had 34 doubles matches between them last year - and not once together - were preferred to Chris Guccione and John Peers, who were unbeaten in three previous matches.

"Just making it through to the semi-final, the first-ever ATP Cup in that type of fashion, was pretty special," Kyrgios said. "The whole team was - we genuinely care for each other, and were genuinely just so ecstatic to get through."

Hewitt said the decision was in the best interests of the team, explaining that he could not leave Kyrgios on the bench because of the way he had been serving, and knew de Minaur would respond positively in the doubles.

His hunch paid off.

Hewitt, who played doubles with de Minaur at the Brisbane International last year, also claimed that the experiences of his two singles players in high-pressure moments were an advantage.

"After I got called up for the doubles, I had already forgotten about the singles," the latter said. "With the doubles win, it's one of the best days of my life, I'm not going to lie."

Australia will play the winner of today's quarter-final tie between Belgium and Rafael Nadal's Spain.

ASSOCIATED PRESS


ATP CUP

Q-finals: Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, 7am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2020, with the headline 'Australia head over heels after victory'. Print Edition | Subscribe