Match Report

Kyrgios Beats Tsitsipas To Clinch 3-0 Start For Aussies

By Tom Allen
Updated , First
Published

Match Report

Kyrgios Beats Tsitsipas To Clinch 3-0 Start For Aussies

By Tom Allen
Updated , First
Published

Bolstered by a raucous Aussie crowd, Nick Kyrgios made the host country a perfect 3-0 at the ATP Cup on Tuesday night, beating World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece for the second time 7-6(7), 6-7(3), 7-6(5).

Kyrgios saw a break point come and go midway through the third, but regrouped in the tie-break, delivering a barrage of forehands and mixing in delicate drop shots to keep Tsitsipas off balance. On match point, he blitzed a backhand return winner down the line before falling to his back and soaking in the shouts from the Brisbane crowd.

Highlights: Kyrgios Edges Tsitsipas In ATP Cup Thriller

Australia, who clinched Group F on Sunday, will head to Sydney for the Final Eight, where it will play the opening quarter-final against Great Britain (Thursday, 10am, buy tickets). The Aussies enter the knockout phase with heaps of momentum as the green and gold look to keep the inaugural ATP Cup title on home soil.

“I served really well in big moments but the atmosphere was awesome. We're carrying some momentum going to Sydney. It could have been easy to take your foot off the gas today. I thought both the Greeks showed up and I think they really wanted to win this tie, but I was happy we both got it done today,” Kyrgios said.

Kyrgios, filling for Aussie No. 1 singles player Alex de Minaur (abdominal strain), cooked up his usual repertoire – tweeners, no-look drop shots and a load of aces – to push Tsitsipas to 1-2 on the season and Greece to 0-3 at the ATP Cup. Frustration set in for Tsitsipas, who was looking to carry his country to an upset after a near-miss against Germany on Sunday night.

In the second set, at 1-1, Ad-In on Kyrgios' serve, Tsitsipas was given a point penalty for hitting a ball at the Greek Team Zone, which finished off the third game of the second set. But the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion and Kyrgios compiled a match to remember for the rest of the night.

Tsitsipas  Kyrgios Epic Rally   ATP Cup

Together, they combined for 115 winners, including 43 aces, and neither player dropped serve (0/3 on break points). As the Aussie fan section “We The People” banged its drum courtside, Tsitsipas and the Greek fans shouting “Stefanos!” between points very much seemed like visitors trying to pull off an upset in enemy territory.

They came close. Tsitsipas, after losing the first-set tie-break, returned the favour in the second set to force a decider, where Tsitsipas saved a break point at 3-3, 30/40, the first break point either player saw since the third game of the second set.

But at 5/5 in the third-set tie-break, Kyrgios stymied Tsitsipas with a big second serve, and the Aussie unloaded on his next return for the win. The 24-year-old Aussie won their only other ATP Head2Head meeting 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(7) last year in the Citi Open semi-finals in Washington, D.C.

“We had a difficult draw here in Brisbane, but we played with what we have," Tsitsipas said. "Canada, Australia... Germany, one of the strongest nations in the game, playing against a small, tiny little nation like Greece, which has no history in tennis at all? You got to feel proud. We fought very hard and we wanted to prove to the rest of the world that [we] can play tennis anywhere in the world.”

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John Millman avoided what would have been the upset of the ATP Cup to give the Aussies the lead.

The 30-year-old, playing the role substitute for the second tie in a row, dug deep against No. 486 Michail Pervolarakis, a 23-year-old who was seeking his first ATP Tour win after going 7-8 on the ATP Challenger Tour last season, to win 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(1).

The 6'4” Greek was swinging freely, but Millman saved a break point in the seventh game of the third set and was steady in the tie-break.

“We came here to Brisbane to do a job. So today was nice,” Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt said. “The quality of tennis was fantastic today and to be able to get through those two matches when the boys could have easily have taken their foot off the pedal today, and that's not what we're about. And when you wear the green and gold it's not what it's about. So I think everyone can be pretty proud of these two today.”

In doubles, Chris Guccione and John Peers secured Australia its third 3-0 tie victory of Group F. The Australian pairing defeated Markos Kalovelonis and Petros Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4.