In the first quarter-final of the inaugural ATP Cup, the host nation Australia defeated Great Britain 2-1 to book the place in the semi-final, waiting for Spain or Belgium there. Ken Rosewall Arena saw an incredible battle between two strong squads, with the Aussies fending off four match points in the deciding doubles rubber to prevail in front of the home fans and stay on the title course.
Nick Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur were involved in all three encounters, with Lleyton Hewitt opting for those two in the deciding match despite the fact de Minaur spent three and a half hours on the court in the second singles rubber against Daniel Evans.
In the first clash, Nick Kyrgios delivered his third singles victory at the ATP Cup, toppling Cameron Norrie 6-2, 6-2 in 72 minutes for the perfect start of the home squad. Nick fired 11 aces and fended off five out of six break points, producing the best tennis when he needed it the most and controlling the scoreboard all the time to push Australia in front.
He grabbed five breaks from seven opportunities, dominating in the return games to cruise towards the finish line and the third win from as many matches in 2020. The first break came in the fifth game when Cameron sprayed a massive forehand error, with Kyrgios fending off two break chances in the next game to cement the lead, securing a break at love in game seven with a forehand slice winner and closing the set with a service winner for a 6-2.
Nick scored three straight breaks in set number two to remain in front, opening a 5-2 advantage when Norrie sent a backhand long and moving over the top with four service winners in the next game. The Sydney native Alex de Minaur had the opportunity to avoid the drama and seal the deal for Australia, only to suffer a tight 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 loss to Daniel Evans in two hours and 23 minutes, with the Briton keeping his country alive ahead of the doubles action.
De Minaur fended off ten out of 13 break chances, winning one point more than Evans and clinching four breaks overall, not enough to cross the finish line first. The opening set lasted for more than an hour and Evans grabbed it 7-4 in the tie break, recovering from an early setback and matching de Minaur's pace in the rest of the set.
The Aussie raised his level in set number two, serving well and breaking the Briton in the third game, keeping the advantage and sealing the set with a hold at 5-4 to bring the final set. There, we saw four breaks in the first seven games, as Alex came back from 3-0 down to hit the positive side of the scoreboard again and challenge the rival all the time.
The Aussie fended off four match points in the 12th game to reach the tie break that Evans claimed 7-2, delivering one of his most notable victories and sending the action towards that doubles clash. Lleyton Hewitt took a gamble and brought Alex de Minaur back to the court with Nick Kyrgios, facing Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury for the place in the semis.
In one of the most thrilling matches of the tournament so far, the Aussies fended off four match points in the match tie break, prevailing 3-6, 6-3, 18-16 after an hour and 34 minutes to propel the home nation into the semis.
After a break in the first game, the Aussies lost the advantage in game four when the Britons broke de Mianur who suffered another loss of service game when Murray landed a return winner at 5-3, allowing Salisbury to close the set with a service winner in the next game.
Alex and Nick went in front in set number two as well before Kyrgios lost serve at 3-2, recovering to grab another break a few minutes later and closing the set in the ninth game to set up the deciding match tie break. There were only two mini-breaks in the first 24 points, staying locked up at 12-12 after two match points wasted by both teams.
The result went back and forth and it was the Aussies who finally managed to win two points in a row thanks to Kyrgios' return winner at 16-16 and his service winners that carried them into the last four.