Perth - Australian
firebrand Nick Kyrgios opened the new year in fine style on Sunday with
a powerhouse win over Spaniard Feliciano Lopez at the Hopman Cup in
But unfortunately for Kyrgios, he and team-mate Daria Gavrilova, the
defending champions in the mixed teams tournament, were upset 2-1 by
Lopez and Lara Arruabarrena, allowing the Spaniards to clinch the tie.
World number 66 Arruabarrena had earlier levelled the tie after securing an unexpected straight sets win over Gavrilova.
The clash with Lopez was Kyrgios’s first official match since the
21-year-old was banned from the ATP tour in October after a tanking
controversy in Shanghai, although he played in the International Premier
Tennis League in December.
Kyrgios, ranked 13 in the world, came out firing against the
35-year-old Lopez, gaining an early break and rifling six aces past the
Spaniard in his first three service games.
He served 14 aces in all and Kyrgios only faced one break point on
his serve for the entire match, winning 6-3, 6-4 in 65 minutes.
Kyrgios said he was surprised with his sharp form, which he believed
reflected work on both his physical and mental strength - the latter
one of the terms of his ban applied by the ATP.
“I felt like I was going to be a bit rusty, but I played really well and it was surprising,” he said.
“I haven’t been doing that much on the court and I’ve been trying to get into a good headspace.”
Kyrgios said he had been working hard with former Watford fitness coach Martin Skinner in recent months.
“I’ve never really had a good strength conditioner in my team and
that was one area where I could develop and take my game to the next
level,” he said.
Kyrgios didn’t appear restricted by strapping on his lower left leg,
and said it was the result of an injury sustained while playing
basketball earlier in the week.
After Kyrgios gave the Australians the lead with his win over Lopez,
the 25th-ranked Gavrilova was expected to secure the tie by beating
Arruabarrena, ranked 66th.
But the Spaniard belied her ranking with an impressive 7-5, 6-1 win.
The Spanish pair then claimed the deciding mixed doubles - played under the Fast Four format - triumphing 4-0, 4-2.
Earlier, the United States opened their Hopman Cup campaign in style with a 3-0 win over the Czech Republic.
The American pair of Jack Sock and Coco Vandeweghe won both their
singles matches to clinch the tie and then made it a clean sweep with a
victory in the mixed doubles.
After Vandeweghe beat Lucie Hradecka 6-4, 6-2, Sock then edged past Adam Pavlasek in three sets.
The dead mixed doubles rubber was a relaxed affair and the US came from a set down to win 2-4, 4-2, 4-1.
Results from the mixed teams Hopman Cup at the Perth Arena on Sunday:
Spain bt Australia 2-1
Men's singles: Nick Kyrgios (AUS) bt Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-3, 6-4
Women's singles: Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) bt Daria Gavrilova (AUS) 7-5, 6-1
Mixed doubles: Arruabarrena/Lopez (ESP) bt Gavrilova/Kyrgios (AUS) 4-0, 4-2 (fast four)
USA bt Czech Republic 3-0
Women's singles: Coco Vandeweghe (USA) bt Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 6-4, 6-2
Men's singles: Jack Sock (USA) bt Adam Pavlasek (CZE) 7-5, 3-6, 6-3
Mixed doubles: Vandeweghe/Sock (USA) bt Hradecka/Pavlasek (CZE) 2-4, 4-2, 4-1 (fast four)