Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt says a collarbone injury was the reason Nick Kyrgios did not play in the opening singles rubber in Friday’s Davis Cup quarter-final defeat to Canada.
Australia went down 2-1 with the inspirational Vasek Pospisil the hero for the Canadians, who will now face Serbia or Russia in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Davis Cup QF: Australia v Canada
- Vasek Pospisil (CAN) def John Millman (AUS) 7-6 (9/7), 6-4
- Alex de Minaur (AUS) def Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
- Pospisil/Shapovalov (CAN) def John Peers/Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-4, 6-4
John Peers and Jordan Thompson went down 6-4, 6-4 in the decisive doubles rubber, but the biggest talking point of the tie was the shock decision to play John Millman in the opening rubber instead of Kyrgios.
“Nick woke up this morning with a problem. It was with his collarbone and he was unable to play,” Hewitt said.
“John came in and did his best, but we are all very disappointed to be out.”
The 24-year-old Kyrgios had been in brilliant form during the first two ties, hurling down 34 aces and was earlier this week labelled the ultimate team man by captain Hewitt.
Mystery initially surrounded the late scratching with Tennis Australia officials merely saying the 24-year-old had not been nominated.
But Hewitt revealed after the tie that Kyrgios pulled up the morning after beating Belgium’s Steve Darcis on Thursday with the problem.
After being unable to serve at full strength two hours before the match on a practice court, the decision was made to draft in Millman.
“I was expecting to play Nick,” admitted Pospisil.
“I was expecting to play him until the hour before the match, I think it was one hour before when the captains nominate the line-up.
“I was like, ‘Oh well, OK, that’s surprising’. And then I just, you know, digested it for five minutes and then went back to getting my racquets ready.
“You obviously start to change my mentality in terms of how I was going to play the match a little bit because they’re two very different players, polar opposites.”
Kyrgios was still courtside, where he enthusiastically cheered on his teammates.
Millman lost 7-6 (9/7), 6-4 to Pospisil, meaning that Australia had to win the remaining two matches to stay alive in the competition.
Alex de Minaur then fought back from a set down to keep the team’s hopes alive with a magnificent 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over Denis Shapovalov.
It came down to the doubles. With Felix Auger-Aliassime failing to recover from an ankle injury the undermanned Canadians had to rely again on Pospisil and Shapovalov against John Peers and a rested Jordan Thompson.
Peers had been passed fit to play after pulling up with an elbow issue in Tuesday’s doubles match against Belgium.
In the end, the final rubber was a tough one for the Australians, who were broken in the opening game and never got into the opening set against Pospisil and Shapovalov, losing 6-4.
With the entire tie on the line, Peers and Thompson got into the game, breaking the Canadians and consolidating to lead 3-0.
But Canada broke back in the fifth game, then levelled at 3-3.
The critical moment came at 4-4, where Thompson was broken before Pospisil, fittingly, held his nerve to close out the win and leave Australia without a Davis Cup win since 2003.