Nick Kyrgios was on cloud nine after his stunning ATP Cup doubles victory over Great Britain alongside Alex de Minaur, but he still couldn’t help but take a jab at his biggest rival in the process.
The Australian duo produced a thrilling comeback against doubles specialists Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury, winning a marathon second set tiebreaker 18-16 to progress to the semi-finals.
Their next match-up could be against Spain - meaning a match-up against one of the most frequent targets of Kyrgios’ derision, Rafael Nadal, could be on the cards.
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While Nadal would most likely face de Minaur in the singles should Spain win their quarter-final against Belgium, Kyrgios was quick to chide a reporter who asked him whether his Australian teammate was up to the task.
“Obviously. That’s the stupidest question I’ve ever heard,” Kyrgios bluntly replied.
Australian coach Lleyton Hewitt was asked the same question a short time later.
The former Wimbledon champion was perhaps more circumspect in his own response, but nonetheless backed de Minaur to take it to the Spanish champion.
“You’re the underdog going into any match against Rafa and we all know the intensity and quality of play that he’s going to bring, he brings it day in and day out,” Hewitt said.
“It’s going to be a good test though for Alex to step up to the mark against that kind of player.
“Alex is playing some of the best tennis of his career right now as well so right now, we’ll just enjoy it for probably the next 24 hours.”
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In a daring selection gamble, Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt replaced doubles specialists John Peers and Chris Guccione with his two singles spearheads after an inspired Dan Evans levelled the tie for Great Britain with an epic victory over de Minaur.
But a lion-hearted de Minaur rebounded from his three-hour, 22-minute singles loss to pull off a rousing 3-6 6-3 18-16 triumph with Kyrgios over two-times grand slam doubles champion Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury.
"It was a tough one," Hewitt said of rolling the dice on the pairing and in particular playing de Minaur after his singles loss.
"He's (de Minaur) a hell of a doubles player when he actually plays; he doesn't play that much.
"We threw out a bit of firepower and it ended up paying off - just."