Millman draws first blood for Australia


The surprise withdrawal of Nick Kyrgios has not stopped Australia taking a 1-0 lead in their ATP Cup clash against Canada in Brisbane on Sunday.

After Kyrgios pulled out with a back complaint, hometown hero John Millman stepped up to down world No.21 Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4 6-2 at Pat Rafter Arena.

World No.48 Millman initially looked in trouble against his Canadian opponent, falling behind 3-1 in the first set. But buoyed on by a vocal crowd, Millman found his rhythm to finally overpower Auger-Aliassime in 101 minutes to level their head to head record at 1-1.

Auger-Aliassime was his own worst enemy, making 42 unforced errors compared to just 16 from Millman.

Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur will now try to win the tie when he takes on world No.15 Denis Shapovalov.

World No.30 Kyrgios’s withdrawal at first appeared to be an ominous sign for the hosts. Kyrgios also pulled out of Australia’s last meeting with Canada, in November’s Davis Cup quarter-finals in Spain due to a recurring collarbone injury.

Australia were bundled out 2-1 after Millman, Kyrgios’s replacement, went down in his singles clash.

However, a pumped up Millman instead helped Australia pick up where they left off from their stirring 3-0 opening win over highly-fancied Germany on Friday.

Canada whitewashed Greece in their opener, which featured Shapovalov’s upset of world No.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas.

It appears the withdrawal of Kyrgios is precautionary with the Australian No.2 mingling with the team before taking a seat courtside to cheer on Millman at Pat Rafter Arena on Sunday.

Besides his impressive first-up victory, Kyrgios has also sparked a massive fundraising effort for bushfire victims while in Brisbane.

Kyrgios’s social media call for a fundraiser resulted in Tennis Australia announcing a “Rally for Relief” exhibition match on Rod Laver Arena on January 15, which is set to feature some of the world’s top players.

And his personal pledge to donate $200 to the bushfire appeal for every ace he serves this summer began a flood of donations from sports people around Australia.

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