Nick Kyrgios was quickly into rhythm on serve as he won the first match of Australia’s ATP Cup tie with Germany. (AAP: Albert Perez)
Nick Kyrgios has put Australia into the lead against Germany at the new ATP Cup tournament, with an impressive 20-ace performance in a 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) win over Jan-Lennard Struff.
Australia v Germany
- Nick Kyrgios (AUS) def Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-4, 7-6 (7/4)
- Alex de Minaur (AUS v Alexander Zverev (GER)
- Chris Guccione / John Peers (AUS) v Kevin Krawietz / Andreas Mies (GER)
Kyrgios took on world number 35 Struff in the opening match of the tie in Brisbane.
Kyrgios received a warm reception, with the crowd behind him. Those watching were hoping for plenty of aces from the Australian, who has pledged to donate $200 to bushfire fundraising for every ace he sends down during the summer.
As the players warmed up, a lone fan led the crowd in a rousing rendition of the song “I am Australian”, with Australia coach Lleyton Hewitt clapping along at courtside.
ATP Cup tweet: ‘It’s pretty sad, it’s tough.” @NickKyrgios speaks about the bushfires after his win over Struff in #Brisbane. #TeamAustralia #ATPCup
Struff came out firing, sending down two aces and an unplayable serve on the way to a quick hold in the opening game.
But Kyrgios got the crowd going with an ace of his own on his first service point of the match. The Australian held serve easily, but was finding it difficult to make inroads on Struff’s serve early on.
Games went with serve to 2-2 in the first set, then in the fifth game Kyrgios managed to keep Struff under pressure and came out on top in some extended rallies.
He earned a break point at 30-40 and forced another error from the German to break for 3-2.
The Canberra native served two more aces in the sixth game, another three in the eighth game and kept his advantage to seal the first set 6-4 with his eighth ace of the match.
Kyrgios held to start the second set, then Struff served three aces to level at 1-1.
The Australian remained in great rhythm on serve, and displayed good hands and reflexes at the net to keep the German frustrated as he tried to break.
Nick Kyrgios was not shy of trying some trademark acrobatic shots in his ATP Cup match. (AP: Tertius Pickard)
Kyrgios also attempted the shot of the match, leaping in the air to execute a trademark ‘tweener’ from front-on, although his return hit the net to lose him the point.
Neither player was able to earn a break point with the big-serving pair belting down 23 aces between them in the second set, which went to a tie-break.
ATP Cup tweet: .@NickKyrgios secures #TeamAustralia’s first-ever #ATPCup match win def. Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4 7-6(4). #AUSGER #Brisbane
The key moment of the breaker came when Struff came to the net on his serve after hitting a deep approach, only for Kyrgios to arc a perfect, curving lob over his opponent for the mini-break and a 5-3 lead.
Struff held for 5-4, but then Kyrgios sent down two more aces to clinch the match, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) in one hour and 11 minutes.
The win gives Australia a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three tie.
Alex de Minaur will take on Germany’s Alexander Zverev in the second match of the night — if he wins, he will seal the tie for the home team.
The new team tournament features matches in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth.
In other ties on Friday, Canada beat Greece 3-0 with Denis Shapovalov defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/4) in the key matchup.
The United States were surprise losers, going down 2-1 to Norway after Casper Ruud beat John Isner in three sets and the doubles pairing of Ruud and Viktor Durasovic beat Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram 4-6, 6-3, 10-5 in a match that went to a deciding match tie-break.
Belgium had a clean sweep over Moldova 3-0.