Alexander Zverev handed Germany a 1-0 lead in their Davis Cup World Group first round tie against Australia when he outlasted Alex de Minaur in a four-hour marathon in Brisbane on Friday (Feb 2).
Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt had thrust the 18-year-old de Minaur into a maiden Davis Cup appearance against his more fancied opponent Zverev, however he showed he has a taste for the high-pressure environment in the 7-5, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) defeat.
Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt had, in his selection of de Minaur for singles duty, backed de Minaur's mobility and defence to make life hard for Zverev, who struggled to put the stamp on the contest expected of a top-five player.
De Minaur put his personal disappointment in a box to walk back out and support Kyrgios at court side and found a wan smile when the Australian No. 1 paid tribute to his "unbelievable" debut effort.
However, the future appears bright judging by de Minaur.
Nick Kyrgios will face Jan-Lennard Struff in his opening match against Germany. "I thought I did a good job getting it done quickly to be fresh for Sunday [reverse singles]".
Zverev then fired up, breaking de Minaur in the eighth game to claim the fourth before finally ending de Minaur's resistance 7-4 in the fifth-set tie-break.
Australia's number one Kyrgios, ranked 14 in the world, was in cruise control for much of the match against Struff, in an ominous sign for Zverev before they meet in Sunday's reverse singles. Angered, he reeled off seven consecutive points. "The other one might tire a little bit and get a bit slower", said Zverev, via AFP. "But it's easy for me [to prepare for a match], I am always ready to go". However, the German kept his poise and picked up his intensity in the fifth set.
Zverev has not made a quarter-final at a Grand Slam event, attesting to his limitations in best-of-five set tennis in a career in which he has twice won a title at the second-tier ATP 1000 level.
"Right now, I could not be more devastated", Sydney-born, Spain-based de Minaur said.
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