ATP Cup 2020: Kyrgios tears and De Minaur spirit lift Australia past Zverev

Alex de Minaur (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)
Alex de Minaur (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images) /

Australia saw off Germany at the ATP Cup, with Nick Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur delighting the home fans against Jan-Lennard Struff and Alexander Zverev.

Nick Kyrgios showed his emotion as he discussed the bushfires in Australia and Alex de Minaur recorded a brilliant comeback to beat Alexander Zverev as the host nation defeated Germany on Day 1 of the ATP Cup.

With Australia and Germany in one of the most competitive groups alongside Canada and Greece, the stakes were high right from the start of this new team competition.

And the host nation made a spectacular start, winning their opening tie 3-0 in Brisbane.

The highlight was a magnificent recovery from De Minaur, who is poised for a big year, against world number seven Zverev.

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After Kyrgios had defeated Struff 6-4 7-6 (7-4), the tie looked poised for a deciding doubles match when Zverev took the opening set and then led 4-2 in the second against De Minaur.

But The Demon had other ideas, breaking back, winning the tie-break and then going on to win the final set for a 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 victory in two hours and 44 minutes.

De Minaur had lost all four of his previous meetings against Zverev, but ended that streak in spectacular fashion, the German showing his frustration at his own performance by smashing his racket after losing the tie-break.

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As it happens, Australia went on to win the doubles anyway, Chris Guccione and John Peers beating Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies in straight sets.

Kyrgios showed emotion after beating Struff when he was asked about the bushfires in Australia.

The fires have had a devastating impact in parts of the country and Kyrgios this week has been influential in leading fundraising efforts from tennis stars, including vowing to donate 200 Australian Dollars for every ace he hits.

He was emotional when asked about the issue in his on-court interview after the win, pausing to wipe away tears during his answer.

“I don’t care about the praise too much. We have the ability and platform to do something,” he said. “I just chucked up a tweet and everyone got behind it. It is bigger than tennis.

“It’s going to all the families, firefighters, animals, everyone who is losing homes, losing families. It’s a real thing. My hometown is Canberra and it’s got the most toxic air in the world. That’s sad. It is tough.”

Nick Kyrgios won his first ATP Cup match
Nick Kyrgios (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images) /

Zverev had 14 double faults in his loss to De Minaur and said afterwards it was “no secret” he was “not feeling his serve” at the moment, also pointing to his lack of practise time ahead of this tournament.

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De Minaur, meanwhile, said: “It’s never easy. You got the added nerves of just a new year, and you’re playing for your country, so all of that together made it a bit more nerve wracking.

“So I’m proud. I was able to settle the nerves and get a win for myself and for Australia.”

Russia won their first tie of the tournament against Italy. Karen Khachanov got them off to a good start against Stefano Travaglia before Daniil Medvedev recovered from heavily losing the first set to beat Fabio Fognini 1-6 6-1 6-3.

Great Britain’s meeting with Bulgaria went down to a decisive doubles match.

Earlier, there were wins for Belgium, Canada and Norway against Moldova, Greece and the United States respectively.

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Saturday’s action will bring us a further six ties, including the first matches for Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the new tennis season, as Spain meet Georgia and Serbia play South Africa in the ATP Cup.