Alexander Zverev beats Nick Kyrgios to give Germany Davis Cup tie win over Australia

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Zverev produced some superb tennis to down Kyrgios 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-2 in one hour, 48 minutes and put Germany into a quarter-final against either Spain or Great Britain.

“(To win) against a very strong Australian team makes us very confident for the next round, for the upcoming years,” German captain Michael Kohlmann said.

“We showed we have a lot of good players, a lot of strong players.

“We showed that we are able to go further than this.”

Zverev served beautifully throughout, only facing two break points in the match, both at the end of the second set and both of which he saved.

He also returned well, getting many of Kyrgios’s thunderbolts back in play and then winning the battle from the back of the court.

“It’s awesome, it’s an amazing feeling and without my teammates it wouldn’t have been possible,” Zverev said.

“Obviously we’re happy but hopefully this is just the beginning for us.”

Nick Kyrgios takes it out on his racket

Nick Kyrgios takes it out on his racket

Kyrgios went into the match full of expectation after an impressive win over Jan-Lennard Struff in Friday’s opening singles.

Zverev, on the other hand, had looked out of touch on Friday and was pushed for almost four hours before seeing off 18-year-old Alex de Minaur in five sets.

But following the Germans’ win in the doubles on Saturday to give them a 2-1 lead, all the pressure was on Kyrgios, who had to win to keep the tie alive.

The mercurial Australian opened brilliantly, holding his serve to love much to the delight of the boisterous home crowd.

But that was almost as good as it got for the Australian team, as Kyrgios lost two of his next three service games to surrender the opening set in just 23 minutes.

Kyrgios appeared troubled by an elbow problem in the first set and it became more noticeable in the second, the Australian often shaking his right arm between points.

He served better in the second set, firing down eight aces, but at 4-3 he had a medical timeout for treatment on his arm.

The Australian continued to serve well and had two set points on Zverev’s serve at 6-5, but the German saved both then played a superb tiebreak to take a stranglehold on the rubber.

Once Zverev broke to go ahead 3-1 the result was never really in doubt and at 2-5, Kyrgios was broken again to give Germany the tie.

Kyrgios said he felt a problem with his elbow after Friday’s match.

“It obviously affected me a lot,” a downcast Kyrgios said.

“My serve is my biggest strength — I mean I thought he played great today — but my serve was not really there and that affects the rest of my game.

“It’s tough to go out there and not be able to put in your best performance.”

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Novak Djokovic refutes claims he is pushing for independent players union to fight for more prize money

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Novak Djokovic won his first-round clash with Donald Young on Tuesday.

Novak Djokovic hosed down suggestions he is pushing to create an independent players union to fight for even more prize money, and denied reports it could lead to tournament boycotts.

British media said the Serbian 12-time Grand Slam winner, president of the ATP Tour player council, had raised the subject at a mandatory player meeting in Melbourne on Friday.

The London Times said he took the stage and suddenly asked that ATP officials and any non-players leave the room, bringing in an Australian professor with specialist knowledge of workplace law.

According to Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, Djokovic, who has earned $110m in prize money, then outlined his argument that the Grand Slams only pay out about seven per cent of their income.

It said he compared this to American basketball, which pays about 50 per cent.

Some reports said the dispute could lead to tournament boycotts if players didn’t get more money, but Djokovic said this was not true.

“That wasn’t a subject I raised, no,” he said after powering into the Australian Open second round in his first tournament match since an elbow injury forced him out of Wimbledon six months ago.

“You’re talking about boycott, you’re talking about radical decisions to make and move so we can get financial compensations the way we deserve it. But there was no talks about that,” he insisted.

The Times said any new union would break away from the present set-up under the ATP, the men’s governing body, which jointly represents the interests of both the players and tournaments.

The ATP refused to comment to AFP.

At the players meeting Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley reportedly outlined plans to boost prize money at the opening Grand Slam of the year from $55m to $100m over the next five years.

Djokovic said “everybody’s trying to do their best” when asked about players getting a bigger slice of Grand Slam revenues.

“I mean, we are here at the Australian Open, and they always try to compensate the players in a best possible way,” he said.

“Things are going in the right direction.”

He added that while he was ATP player council president, “I don’t sit on these negotiation tables”.

“Obviously before you get anything to be voted on the board, it has to go through council. It’s not only me that makes some calls, far from that.

“I’m just glad that I’m part of it, that I can contribute to a better sport today, and the future. Hopefully the next generation will even have a better sport.”

Kevin Anderson, who is vice-president of the ATP player council, was cited by British media as saying: “I think there’s a big case to be made as far as percentage goes.

“If you see an NBA (basketball) player or an NFL (American football) player you think seven figures in their bank account and I don’t think that’s the case even for some players who make the main draw at Grand Slams.”

Maria Sharapova acknowledged Grand Slam revenues were growing and said after her Australian Open match on Tuesday that: “I do believe that the players will ultimately earn more.”

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Will Nick Kyrgios win a Grand Slam title in 2018?

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Nick Kyrgios's career has been controversial to date.

Will 2018 finally be the year when Nick Kyrgios fulfills his immense potential?

There is no doubting the 22-year-old’s talent but his temperament, on-and-off-court behaviour and, at times, lack of effort on the tennis court have raised question marks over his desire to win majors.

Here, ahead of the Australian Open, our two writers assess the Australian and whether we will see a major breakthrough from him over the next few months.

Get in touch with your thoughts, too – via Twitter and Facebook.

MATT MONAGHAN, SAYS YES:

After finally appearing to win the grand battle against his mental demons, Nick Kyrgios is poised to conquer the men’s game.

The enfant terrible turned into celebrated ATP World Tour winner for the first time in the early weeks of 2018, valiant victory at the Brisbane International providing a springboard to the sport’s grandest titles. An easy mistake is to purely concentrate on his homecoming at the Australian Open, beginning on Monday against Brazil’s Rogerio Dutra Silva.

Yet even if this symbolic chance on home court slips by, promising signs point to a creditable Grand Slam-challenger emerging from his cocoon.

At a time when countryman Bernard Tomic’s descent is speeding up and all that’s left is to “count money”, Kyrgios is moving just as rapidly in the other direction – his current ranking of 17 is his highest since August.

The truculent figure who has openly admitted to ‘tanking’ – deliberately not playing to his abilities – up to eight times in his troubled past is just an awkward memory.

Redemptive lessons have, belatedly, been learned from October’s first-round withdrawal at the Shanghai Masters and frank admission about his – then – shoddy dedication in the wake of an early exit at the US Open.

An inner steel has been applied to match the aggressive, hard-serving game – perfect for Wimbledon and Australia, where he made the last eight in 2014 and 2015 – which should be the backbone of many Slam challenges. In Brisbane, he battled back from sets down in both the quarter and semi-finals before breezing past Ryan Harrison 6-4, 6-2 at a moment of expectation.

In his troubled past, the bright lights would have led to an incendiary explosion. Not now, aged 22.

Kyrgios did not come close to challenge for a Grand Slam last year, but the field has never been more open.
Andy Murray is waylaid, Novak Djokovic unsure. Fitness can appear fleeting for Rafael Nadal, while Roger Federer’s Indian summer cannot last forever.

The sun is setting on a golden generation. It is Kyrgios’ time to shine.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 13: Nick Kyrgios of Australia plays a shot while wearing an Equality shirt during a practice session ahead of the 2018 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 13, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Can Kyrgios make a charge on home soil?

CHRIS BAILEY, SAYS NO

Nick Kyrgios has given us fresh hope many times before – don’t let him do it again.

The Australian is a talent of such scarcity that, regardless of whether his head is fully screwed on, he will have his fair share of fine weeks and tournaments.

The singularly impressive element of his run to the Brisbane International final was how he bounced back from conceding the first set to Matthew Ebden, Andrey Dolgopolov and Grigor Dimitrov.

But you get the feeling that just as the sun and moon align once in a while, it will take some doing for Kyrgios to eclipse his victory in Brisbane this year.

He straddles a wafer-thin line between genius and implosion every time he steps onto the court – expecting him to keep himself on the right side for two weeks and seven potential five-setters is fanciful.

We saw just the hint of his rashness in the Brisbane final against Ryan Harrison. Kyrgios, quite rightly, complained to the umpire about Harrison’s lengthy toilet break between sets. But the way he kept bludgeoning his point, without a filter, further underlined his tendency to let rather irrelevant things weigh on his mind.

This is also the man – and at 22, he must be considered a fully-fledged one – who questioned his own commitment to tennis after crashing out in the first round of his last major to John Millman, the then world No. 235.

“I played an hour of basketball before I played David Ferrer in the semi-final. I was going to ice cream, getting a milkshake every day,” he said after his US Open exit. “I was less dedicated. And this week I was dedicated, and my shoulder starts hurting. I don’t know.”

Has he really changed his attitude around in less than six months? Or has he just decided to like tennis again because he’s in a purple patch?

He’d headed to the US Open in fine fettle, too, having reached the final of Cincinnati. Yet 2017 went in the books as the year he won just two matches in the four Grand Slams.

This is the time for the new generation to knock the Rogers and Rafas of the men’s tennis scene off their thrones, but Kyrgios will find a way to trip up on the palace steps.

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