By Alessandro Mastroluca

  • Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury were a point away from victory in the deciding doubles against Nick Kyrgios and Alex De Minaur
  • Kyrgios opened the tie with  a dominant win over Cameron Norrie
  • Evans took his finest career win as he beat De Minaur in the longest match of the tournament
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Great Britain missed two match points in the deciding doubles rubber. Dan Evans had won the match of the tournament against Alex De Minaur.

 

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Less than two months after the Davis Cup, Great Britain went again close to an epic win in the knockout stage, and instead, suffering an agonising close defeat.

The ATP Cup quarter-final against Australia came down to the doubles as Nick Kyrgios completed an emphatic 6-2 6-2 win over Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans took the finest victory in his whole career denying Alex de Minaur 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(2) in the match of the tournament.

Few could have predicted the drama to follow. Hewitt replaced doubles specialists John Peers and Chris Guccione with his two singles spearheads, who had never paired up before.

Nick Kyrgios def. Cameron Norrie 6-2 6-2

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Once again, Kyrgios demonstrated his love for team competitions. In such contests, he usually gives it all to get the best out of his team and himself. The pro-Australia crowd saw him breaking Norrie five times to give Australia their tenth consecutive victory in the competition.

The British left-hander, too eager to press, over-hit and it led to an abundance of unforced errors. Kyrgios had increasing chances to make the first aggressive shot of the rally, and it clearly made the difference.

The World No.52 battled hard finding a way to put the dynamic Australian on the back foot. He managed to break for the first time in the second set but it was too little and definitely too late to have an impact.

 

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Dan Evans def. Alex De Minaur 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(2)

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The second singles rubber was a kind of magic. Evans won the longest match of the tournament so far. After his loss to Grigor Dimitrov in his opening match, the Brit has played sensational tennis. He beat World No. 11 David Goffin, Moldovan No. 1 Radu Albot and now De Minaur. The Australian No.1 came back twice from a set and a break down against Denis Shapovalov and Alexander Zverev, and he looked ready to do it again. After winning the first set in a tense tie-break, the British No.1 found himself hurting and trailing 2-5 in the second.

He saved set point for 4-5, managing only to delay the starting of an epic, deciding set. Evans broke to 3-0, rediscovering precision, focus, self-confidence. He lost his serve to 3-2, broke back immediately but, after a controversial time violation, was broken for the second time in a row.

De Minaur took a long break to change the laces in his left shoe at 4-4 40-0, while Evans’ frustration was visibly mounting. Cramps soon followed. The Brit failed to convert four match points on return at 6-5. He remained calm and played his cards right in the following tie-break. He went 5-2 up, struck a winner to gain four further match points. The first was enough. Evans, now 24-14 in deciding tie-breaks, roared as the Australian, who won more points, hit the final forehand wide.

 

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Nick Kyrgios/Alex de Minaur def. Jamie Murray/Joe Salisbury 3-6 6-3 18-16

Hewitt took the tough decision to bring in both singles specialists instead of the established doubles duo of Guccione and Peers. The selection gamble paid its dividends and closed a day of feverish tennis.

In the match tie-break decider, Jamie Murray squandered a golden opportunity, netting a terrible volley with the whole court at his disposal on Britain’s second match point at 11-10. Later, when Joe Salisbury sent a backhand long on the hosts’ fifth match point, Australians sealed a rousing 3-6 6-3 18-16 triumph. Australia will face Belgium or Spain on Saturday.

 

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