PERTH, Jan 7, 2015:
Controversial Australian Nick Kyrgios recorded one of the best wins of his career to upset world number two Andy Murray and lead Australia Green to victory over Great Britain at the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth on Wednesday.
Although Heather Watson then levelled the tie with a brave comeback victory against newly naturalised Australian Daria Gavrilova, the home team secured the tie when they won a thrilling mixed doubles encounter in a tense match tiebreak, 6-2, 6-7 (0/7), 11-9.
Unbeaten in their first two group matches, the pairing of Kyrgios and Gavrilova only need to beat France, who are out of contention after losing both their ties, on Friday to advance to Saturday’s final.
Fittingly, it was Kyrgios who served an ace to seal the mixed doubles win, after the 20-year-old notched a breakthrough win over Murray in the singles, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5).
The richly-talented Kyrgios is coming off a contentious 2015, including his infamous on-court spat with Stanislas Wawrinka, but has looked in impressive form in his two singles matches in Perth.
He beat rising German star Alexander Zverev on Sunday, and overcame a verbal clash with a fan in the second set against Murray to notch his first win in five matches against the Scot.
It also ended Murray’s 11-match winning streak in team’s tennis, including last year’s Davis Cup final, and the world number 30 said it was one of his best wins.
“It’s up there,” he said.
“One hundred per cent he wanted to win that tonight.
“I actually was a little bit nervous going out there, I’ve lost to him the last four times I played him.
“I knew it was going to be tough today, I thought I executed well under pressure today.”
Murray said the fast-paced nature of the match was to his detriment.
“There were a lot of quick points in the match,” he said.
“I wasn’t able to extend as many of the rallies as usual, and as I would have liked.”
The British then appeared down and out when Gavrilova served for the match, and the tie, at 5-3 in the third set against Watson in the women’s singles.
However, Watson produced a stunning finish to take the last four games and square the tie with her 6-7 (2/7), 6-2, 7-5.
Earlier, Germany kept their hopes alive with a thrilling 2-1 win over France.
The tie was level at 1-1 after the singles rubbers were split, but the German pairing of Sabine Lisicki and Zverev prevailed in the deciding mixed doubles, beating Caroline Garcia and Kenny de Schepper, 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 10-6.
It was a make-or-break tie for both teams and the result ended the Hopman hopes of the French after defeats in their first two ties.
However, Germany can still reach Saturday’s final if they beat Great Britain on Friday and Australia Green loses.
It was a dramatic mixed doubles rubber, with the Germans winning the first set and holding a match point at 6-5 in the second.
Lisicki thought she had served an ace to take the set, match and tie, but it was called a let and she then served a double fault to enable the French to force it to a tiebreak.
The Germans then saved three set points before the French eventually won the tiebreak 8-6 to force the deciding match tiebreak.
In the women’s singles match, the emerging Garcia took early control.
Lisicki started to show more signs of the form that took her to the 2013 Wimbledon final in the second set, but Garcia steadied to win the match in a tiebreaker 6-2, 7-6 (7/5).
Zverev then levelled the tie with a commanding win over French journeyman Kenny de Schepper.
The teenager looked a class act as he dismantled the 28-year-old Frenchman in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, to set up the deciding mixed doubles.
World number one Serena Williams officially withdrew from the event on Wednesday due to a knee problem.