Kyrgios fires first shot against Germans
NICK Kyrgios has come out swinging ahead of Australia's ATP Cup opener against Germany at Pat Rafter Arena on Friday night.
Revelling in the team atmosphere that often brings the best out of the enigmatic but immensely talented player, Kyrgios warned Germany not to get caught up in the hype of their first-round Davis Cup win over Australia at the same venue in February 2018.
In that tie, Alexander Zverev beat both Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur as Germany marched to a three rubbers to one victory.
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World No.7 Zverev is set to meet de Minaur, Australia's highest ranked player at No.18, while Kyrgios' opponent will be Jan-Lennard Struff.
Kyrgios, fit again after overcoming a shoulder injury, said the Australians didn't fear the Germans.
"I've beaten Zverev multiple times and Struff," Kyrgios said.
"The way Demon (de Minaur) is playing now, it's night and day for how he was playing when we last played them (in the Davis Cup).
"I don't think they're going to be liking how many balls he gets back in this heat."
Kyrgios promised he would do whatever necessary to "get the best" out of his teammates.
"I love being around the boys. I love being around team environments … it's awesome, another opportunity to come together as a group," he said.
"To be able to work play again in our home country's special. I've had some great memories here, some of these boys have as well. It's just another opportunity to go out there and have fun.
"I had a couple of frothies last night. I'm feeling good."
De Minaur vowed to cope with the pressure of being Australia's top player in the tournament.
"I strongly believe that no expectation is going to be greater than the one I put on myself," de Minaur said.
"I've put in the hard yards. It's just about going out there and enjoying myself."
Australia's No.3 singles player and proud Queenslander John Millman tipped his team to lift in "the most underrated city in the world".
"We're very lucky to be in this city, I love it here ... it's a bloody good city," Millman said.
"You won't find a more passionate Queenslander or 'Brisbanite' than myself. Drink it in boys."
Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt urged his players not to waste the chance to play well on home soil for team and individual reasons.
"For us it's a great opportunity for our boys to play in our home country," Hewitt said.
"The preparation these guys are going to get two weeks out from the Australian Open is critical.
"We're in a really tough competitive group as well, so if we can find a way of getting through to the quarter-final knockout stage then all these boys will be playing really well going into the first major."
BORIS BOWLS 'EM OVER
Whether it's the grass of Wimbledon or the grass of the Merthyr Bowls Club, Boris Becker is a winner.
While the "Boom Boom" may have gone because of a hip problem, Becker still led by example in guiding his German team to victory over Canada in a game of barefoot bowls in Brisbane yesterday.
"It's my second lawn bowls experience," Becker said.
"I did it last year in Melbourne, so I have a lot more experience than everybody else.
"It made a difference today. Germany beat Canada in this very important game today."
Jokes aside, Germany's ATP Cup captain was seeking any psychological advantage possible ahead of the start of 24-nation team tournament.
"It's always good to win," Becker said.
Germany and Canada are part of a tough Group F that includes Australia and Greece.
Becker's Germans and the Lleyton Hewitt-captained Australians meet tomorrow night at the Pat Rafter Arena at the Queensland Tennis Centre.
Despite the likelihood of a parochial Aussie crowd, the Germans are relishing returning to the venue where they beat Australia three rubbers to one in a Davis Cup first-round World Group tie in February 2018.
Germany's world No.7 Alexander Zverev will meet Australia's world No.18 Alex de Minaur in a repeat of their epic match - won by Zverev in five sets - from the same Davis Cup tie.
"We're the only ones ever to beat Australia in Brisbane," Zverev said.
"It's a great memory of the week that we had here in 2018. I hope we can take something out of that as well.
"We know that we can play well on that court, so I hope we can show it again this year and not only beat Australia but the other countries as well.
"I love the opportunity to play for Germany and represent my country … it's always something special."