Alexander Zverev has crumbled at the hands of Alex de Minaur to secure Australia victory in their ATP Cup opener in Brisbane.
World No.18 de Minaur showed trademark grit to hang with Germany’s world No.7 in the early stages, before swamping him in a 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 win.
Zverev was in control early, gaining a double break that de Minaur almost reeled in before the German won a 10-minute game to take the first set with his seventh set point.
But as the match wore on the 20-year-old turned the tables and Zverev felt the pinch in a contest that lasted two hours and 45 minutes.
He finished with 14 double faults and, with team captain Boris Becker watching on, brutally destroyed a racquet after surrendering an early break to lose the second set.
De Minaur only accelerated from there, running everything down in a statement win ahead of this month’s Australian Open.
Rubbing salt into the wound, Kyrgios cheekily did push-ups on the team bench in plain sight of the German every time he double faulted.
Australia will next play Davis Cup finalists Canada on Sunday, who beat Stefanos Tsitsipas‘s Greece 3-0 earlier on Friday in Brisbane.
The top team from all six pools, plus the two next-best teams, will progress to the quarter-finals in Sydney later next week.
Kyrgios, ranked 30 in the world, put on a serving masterclass in the opening clash, delivering 20 aces against the world No.35 who had beaten him in their last outing.
Pledging $200 for every ace he serves this summer, the Australian admitted he had the victims of the bushfires firmly in mind whenever he stepped up to the line.
“Seeing my home town being on alert and having the worst air quality in the world, it’s tough to go out here and concentrate on tennis,” he said.
“The crowd was louder than usual (after an ace); it was on everyone’s minds, it was powerful.”