Back from brink
AUSTRALIA captain Lleyton Hewitt has hailed the fighting spirit of Nick Kyrgios after the enigmatic star’s Davis Cup victory over Steve Darcis in Brussels.
Kyrgios battled back to keep alive his nation’s hopes of its first final appearance in the prestigious team event in 14 years, seeing off a determined Darcis in a five-set thriller to level the tie at 1-1.
The world No.20 had to do things the hard way against the wily 33-year-old before coming out on top 6-3 3-6 6-7 (7-5) 6-1 6-2 to silence a raucous home crowd at the Palais 12 Arena.
Kyrgios said the victory was one of the most important of his career after John Millman’s spirited display against David Goffin in the opening rubber proved to be in vain.
The Belgian world No.12 edged the Queenslander out in four sets 6-7 (7-4) 6-4 6-3 7-5.
Things looked bleak for Australia after Darcis took the third set in a tiebreak to leave the visitors staring down the barrel of a 2-0 deficit ahead of the doubles rubber last night.
But Hewitt used his 18 years of experience in the competition to coax his mercurial spearhead into believing he could see off Darcis — the man who relegated Australia from the World Group in a playoff decider in Townsville in 2010.
“The biggest thing for Nick was to stay in the moment,” Hewitt said.
“We had to turn the momentum around, which is what they had after winning the second and third sets.
“I was proud of how Nick stood up early in that fourth set. He took the ascendancy, broke straight away in the fourth.
“That shut up the crowd and the momentum swung back our way.
“The fifth set could have gone either way, but Nick hung tough on the big points and came up clutch and we were able to sneak away with the win.”
Goffin came from down to beat Millman.
Hewitt made the controversial call to omit Thanasi Kokkinakis from his four-man team to accommodate the 28year-old Queenslander, and said he was delighted with his performance.
Doubles stars John Peers and Jordan Thompson were to face Ruben Bemelmans and Arthur De Greef last night. a set
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Nick Kyrgios plays a trick shot against Belgium’s Steve Darcis and (inset) is embraced by captain Lleyton Hewitt after his victory. Pictures: AP