Kyr­gios serves up funds for Aus­tralia at ATP Cup

Antelope Valley Press - - Sports - By JOHN PYE

BRIS­BANE, Aus­tralia — Nick Kyr­gios served 20 aces in a win that cost him $4,000 in lo­cal cur­rency and helped set up Aus­tralia’s open­ing ATP Cup win over Ger­many.

It was all for a cause. Kyr­gios, so of­ten con­sid­ered the bad boy of tennis for his emo­tional be­hav­ior and out­bursts, promised to do­nate 200 Aus­tralian dol­lars ($140) for ev­ery ace he serves this month to go toward the re­cov­ery ef­fort from the wild­fires that have dev­as­tated parts of Aus­tralia, leav­ing at least 19 peo­ple dead and 1,400 homes de­stroyed.

He opened and closed his 6-4, 7-6 (4) win over Jan-Len­nard Struff on Fri­day in Bris­bane with boom­ing, high-value serves — in­clud­ing a sec­ond-ser­vice ace down the mid­dle to close it out.

Alex De Min­aur fol­lowed that up with an up­set over No. 7-ranked Alexan­der Zverev, trail­ing a set and a break be­fore ral­ly­ing to win 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2 on Pat Rafter Arena. Aus­tralia also won the dou­bles to clinch a 3-0 sweep of Ger­many.

Kyr­gios de­vised the cash for aces idea ear­lier in the week, and in­spired other fundrais­ing ef­forts from other play­ers and from or­ga­niz­ers of the ATP Cup and the Aus­tralian Open. He said he was lifted by the crowd, and mo­ti­vated by the plight of peo­ple strug­gling in parts of the coun­try im­pacted by the fires, in­clud­ing his home­town of Can­berra. A tour­na­ment had to be re­lo­cated from the Aus­tralian cap­i­tal to Vic­to­ria state ear­lier Fri­day be­cause of poor air qual­ity re­lated to the prox­im­ity of the fires.

“It’s tough,” Kyr­gios said, chok­ing back tears and wip­ing his face with his towel in an on-court in­ter­view. “(The money raised) is go­ing to the fam­i­lies, fire fight­ers, an­i­mals, ev­ery­one who is los­ing homes, los­ing fam­ily - it’s a real thing. It’s big­ger than tennis, you know.

“It’s tough to go out there and con­cen­trate on tennis, to be hon­est. Ev­ery ace I was hit­ting that’s all I was think­ing about. Ev­ery time I stepped up to the line that’s all I was think­ing about.”

Canada reg­is­tered the first vic­tory of the new in­ter­na­tional team tour­na­ment, and the United States went down in the first ma­jor up­set de­spite be­ing one point from clinch­ing a win over Nor­way.

The 24-team tour­na­ment kicked off the men’s tennis sea­son for 2020, with matches Fri­day in Bris­bane and Syd­ney on Aus­tralia’s east coast and Perth in Western Aus­tralia state.

The Cana­di­ans swept Greece 3-0, with De­nis Shapo­valov hold­ing off No. 6-ranked Ste­fanos Tsit­si­pas 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) after 19-yearold Felix Auger-Alias­sime beat Michail Per­volarakis in the first sin­gles vic­tory of the tour­na­ment. They the com­bined to win the dou­bles.

The No. 15-ranked Shapo­valov now has a 3-1 lead in ca­reer meet­ings over ATP Fi­nals cham­pion Tsit­si­pas, who was un­able to con­vert his break-point chances in the seventh and 11th games of the sec­ond set and then had a dou­ble-fault on match point.

“He had an un­be­liev­able end to the sea­son and he’s def­i­nitely one of the top play­ers in the world right now,” Shapo­valov said. “So to beat a guy like this first match of the year, it’s re­ally spe­cial for me.”

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