Tsitsipas turns up the heat
The screws are tightening early on Team World on Day 2 of the Laver Cup after Stefanos Tsitsipas’ first career triumph over Nick Kyrgios at Boston’s TD Garden.
The Australian had the chance to level proceedings for John McEnroe’s lineup after the first match on Day 2 with double points on offer.
But on Saturday, it was all Tsitsipas as his superior consistency and dominance on serve secured the 6-3 6-4 victory and a 5-1 lead for Team Europe.
“I was really pumped. First of all, I had a team behind me, backing me up. It is important,” Tsitsipas said. “Coming in with a negative record, of course you want to change that and get a win, at least, which I’m very happy about.
It took a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication during that match … it was quite nerve-wracking as well. I did find ways to close it with the best possible way.
Kyrgios had prevailed in both prior meetings between the pair in a third-set tiebreak, including an ATP Cup thriller in Brisbane last year.
That remained the 26-year-old’s most recent top 10 win, having played a limited schedule since, while Tsitsipas had surged to a career-best world No.3 on an impressive season, which included a maiden Grand Slam final appearance at Roland Garros.
The Greek was untested on serve early on and landed the first break for 3-1. There were more worrying signs for Kyrgios when he twice stared down a double break at 1-4 before rallying to hold.
A quick pep talk from teammate Jack Sock attempted to boost the Australian’s morale but Tsitsipas was in complete control on serve as he conjured a love hold for the set.
Danger always lurks for an opponent when Kyrgios begins to find his fire.
“There it is,” he yelled after he hammered an unreturnable serve for his most impressive hold of the match for 2-1 in the second set.
Tsitsipas required an emergency pit stop when he broke his shoe lace in the ensuing game, eliciting a wry smile from the Australian.
And with a new set of tyres fitted the Greek landed the break on a dipping backhand pass.
Kyrgios drew on a progression of Team World teammates for advice and after Lloyd Harris had his ear at the change of ends he was on the verge of pegging back the break.
But Tsitsipas was rock steady as he surged back from 0-40 and saved two more break points to jump to 5-3.
It was a punctuation mark on an impressive performance as he sealed the result on a forehand pass a game later to pile the pressure on John Isner in the day’s second singles match against Alexander Zverev.
“I think it’s important for us, regardless of the conditions and the circumstances to always obtain our game and try to fight against the opponent we have to,” Tsitsipas said. “For us, we’re a team of really great players, I think we’re capable of showing up for work every single day.”