Australia's Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt admits he has tried to no avail to convince Nick Kyrgios to represent his country in the tennis teams competition. Hewitt's Aussie team suffered a devastating 2-0 hammering by Canada in David Cup final in Malaga on Sunday.
Canada's win came off the back of brilliant straight-sets demolition jobs by powerhouses Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime - currently ranked 18th and 6th respectively, in the world standings. The Canadian pair were too good for Alex de Minaur and Thanasi Kokkinakis as Canada broke their Davis Cup drought in style.
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Kokkinakis was first put to the sword by Shapovalov before de Minaur got shredded 6-3 6-4 by Auger-Aliassime as Canada lifted the men's World Cup of tennis for the first time in the competition's 122-year history. Australia's wait for a 29th Davis Cup title will stretch into a 20th year after Hewitt's men fell agonisingly short.
Shortly after Australia's Davis Cup humbling was complete, questions almost immediately turned to whether Hewitt's men could have lifted the trophy if the nation's top-ranked player was present. Kyrgios has not played in the Davis Cup for Australia for three years now, but in a sad admission from Hewitt, the Aussie great said it's through no lack of trying on his part.
Asked if might be able to persuade Kyrgios, who's enjoyed his most successful season headed by a run to the final at Wimbledon, to join the team again next year, Hewitt just shrugged with a weary smile: "I don't know. You have to ask him. I can't try any harder."
Hewitt was pressed if he'd done everything in his power to get Kyrgios on board for Australia, Hewitt added: "Of course. I try and come here with the best possible team we could field."
De Minaur was then also asked if he might try to persuade his friend, with the second-ranked Aussie men's tennis player echoing his captain's sentiments: "I have tried, as well. Just wasn't meant to be..."
The frustrating thing for Hewitt must be that Kyrgios was last week playing in Europe with Thanasi Kokkinakis, in the doubles competition for the ATP Finals. Kokkinakis hopped straight from Turin to join the team but Kyrgios had already called an end to his breakout singles season early last month.
Kyrgios will, however, be playing an exhibition event in Saudi Arabia in two weeks time, where he's set to earn a whopping six-figure payday. The 27-year-old was happy to trumpet that fact in response to a user's comment on a de Minaur post, asking where Kyrgios was for the Davis Cup. He replied: “About to go to Saudi for 6 figures actually.”
Kyrgios is very much his own man and will have his own reasons for the prolonged absence from the national team setup, which stretches back to since he won his last two rubbers in November 2019. During Australia's campaign in Malaga though, it was hard to escape the feeling that the World No.22 would have thrived in Malaga, in front of the type of tennis-mad crowd that usually brings the best out of the Aussie firebrand.
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Along with de Minaur, he might have provided the sort of formidable singles strike force the Canadians sent out. Instead, Australia seemed fatally weakened by having to play Kokkinakis, who was, by his own reckoning, rusty, short on confidence and "off the pace" against Shapovalov.
Not that the indefatigable de Minaur, beaten by an inspired Auger-Aliassime, was buying into the idea that Australia can't win the Cup without Kyrgios. "Look, I think we were very close today. Yeah, just wait until the next time we get the same match-up. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it."
Hewitt summed up the mood in the Australian camp, saying: "I'm gutted for the boys. They've put in the commitment and the work and done absolutely everything right all year.
"They left it all out there once again. We came up slightly short, but I couldn't be prouder - and all of Australia should be proud."
After a dejected Kokkinakis was left scolding himself for being "pretty much useless" in his 6-2 6-4 shredding by an inspired Shapovalov, the never-say-die Australian No.1 de Minaur knew he'd need a potentially career-defining win over Auger-Aliassime.
But de Minaur was a picture of misery after the world No.6's relentless power eventually overwhelmed his defence. "It's tough, but so many Australian Davis Cup players have followed our journey throughout the whole year every step and were riding this roller coaster with us. It just shows what a family this Australian Davis Cup team is," said Spanish-based de Minaur, whose family turned out to cheer him on.
“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”
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