The surprise withdrawal of Nick Kyrgios has not stopped Australia moving one step closer to the ATP Cup finals by claiming sweet revenge on Canada.
The hosts extended their unbeaten run in Brisbane after Alex de Minaur again displayed his remarkable fighting qualities, sealing Sunday’s tie with a 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 6-2 comeback win over world No.15 Denis Shapovalov.
After Chris Guccione and John Peers won the doubles to complete a 3-0 whitewash, Australia can qualify for the finals in Sydney as Group F winners as early as Sunday night if Germany beats Greece in the next tie.
Someone had to step up on Sunday after Kyrgios became a “precautionary” late withdrawal with a back complaint.
His last-minute replacement John Millman quickly became a hard act to follow when he thrashed world No.21 Felix Auger-Aliassime, 6-4 6-2, sending his home crowd at Pat Rafter Arena into raptures.
But de Minaur produced the showstopper. He came back from 7-6 4-2 down to oust fellow young gun Shapovalov and clinch an unbeatable 2-0 lead just days after upsetting Germany’s world No.7 Alexander Zverev in their opening-tie thriller.
Guccione and Peers later downed Auger-Aliassime and Adil Shamasdin in a super tiebreaker.
“I’m playing for more than myself and I wanted to do everything in my power to try and get a point for Australia,” world No.18 de Minaur said of his Herculean fightback.
I managed to get back into a positive mindset, get my energy back and was able to turn it around again, so obviously very proud.”
Australia exacted some revenge after Canada bounced them out of the Davis Cup quarter-finals in November in Spain.
But the initial signs were ominous for the hosts.
Kyrgios also pulled out of Australia’s last meeting with Canada in the Davis Cup clash in Madrid due to a recurring collarbone injury.
Australia was beaten 2-1 after Millman, Kyrgios’s replacement, went down in his singles rubber, with Canada ultimately qualifying for its maiden Davis Cup final.
But pumped-up world No.48 Millman was not to be denied on Sunday, revelling in a chance to strut his stuff on his home court before de Minaur stood tall.
Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt hinted Kyrgios would return for Tuesday’s clash with Greece after pulling up sore from his first tie-victory against Germany.
Kyrgios did not look too restricted by his back complaint as he cheered on his teammates court-side on Sunday.
“This morning, I could tell John that he was going to be in when Nick was still sore and a bit stiff,” Hewitt said.
“It’s more a precaution than anything.
“We’ll test him out beginning tomorrow and see where he’s at.”