Hopman Cup: Aussies fall 2-1 to Spain
Nick Kyrgios beat Feliciano Lopez in straight sets on Sunday night in Perth before Lara Arruabarrena levelled the tie with an upset win over Daria Gavrilova.
Nick Kyrgios opened his year with a powerful singles win, but it wasn’t enough to save Australia in their Hopman Cup tie against Spain on Sunday night.
Kyrgios entered his singles match with strapping just below his left knee after taking a tumble while playing basketball a few days earlier.
The world No.13 brushed off the discomfort to beat Feliciano Lopez 6-3 6-4 in a match that lasted 65 minutes.
Spain levelled the tie at 1-1 when world No.66 Lara Arruabarrena notched a shock 7-5 6-1 win over an out-of-sorts Daria Gavrilova.
And Spain prevailed in the Fast4 doubles format, winning 4-0 4-2 to secure the tie 2-1.
Australia must now beat the Czech Republic pairing of Lucie Hradecka and Adam Pavlasek on Tuesday night in order to keep their Hopman Cup title defence alive.
Kyrgios powered down 14 aces in his singles match, and raced through the first set in just 23 minutes.
The 21-year-old was pleasantly surprised at how well he’d played given he had reduced his on-court practice time during the off-season, and instead focused on boosting his fitness.
“I felt like I was going to be a bit rusty at times. But I played really well today,” Kyrgios said.
“It’s surprising because I haven’t been doing much on the court. I’ve just been trying to get into a good head space and be ready.
“I was really happy with the level today.”
Kyrgios credited his strength and conditioning coach Martin Skinner for helping him become a better athlete.
Skinner joined the Kyrgios camp in late September, and it’s a love-hate relationship that is starting to bear fruit.
“I hate it. There’s plenty of other things I’d rather do,” Kyrgios said of the new fitness regime.
“He drives me. I’m not the easiest person to get along with at times, and I’m not a good listener.
“But I know that he’s pretty intelligent in the gym. So I don’t question him too much. He’s been working me pretty good.”
Kyrgios said his injury withdrawal during the third round of the US Open was the wake-up call he needed to improve his fitness and strength.
“That hurt,” Kyrgios said. “I was doing absolutely nothing at that stage, and it caught up with me.
“I’ve got to start doing at least the bare minimum, or more, to stay healthy. That’s my main goal – to stay healthy this year.
“I’ve never really had a good strength and conditioner in my team. I think that was one area where I could develop and I had a lot of potential to take my game to the next level.”
Gavrilova enjoyed a breakout year in 2016, rocketing up to 25th in the world rankings.
But the 22-year-old was out of touch against Spain, committing a glut of unforced errors in both the singles and doubles matches.
“I probably didn’t play great,” Gavrilova said of her singles loss.
“I wasn’t ready for her to play that well to be honest. I felt like I was under pressure the whole time. I was just defending the whole time.”