Madrid (AFP) – Nick Kyrgios has said he can beat anyone at the Davis Cup and is ready to lead Australia to victory in the tournament after they beat Colombia on Tuesday.
Kyrgios overcame Alejandro Gonzalez 6-4, 6-4 and Alex de Minaur defeated Daniel Galan 6-4, 6-3 to create an unassailable lead ahead of the last doubles rubber.
Australia could seal their place in the quarter-finals by beating Belgium on Wednesday and Kyrgios, who has returned from a two-month break to play in Madrid, was feeling bullish after his win.
“I haven’t played that much in the past couple of months but I took time off to get ready for this event,” Kyrgios said afterwards.
“I think we can win it for sure. The way that Alex is playing and I know I can beat every single person in this competition.
“We have a great doubles player in John Peers and Jordan [Thompson] can play singles or doubles.
“Then we have great energy guys like John Millman so we have good depth. I think our chemistry compared to the other teams is up there.”
Canada’s Vasek Pospisil and Denis Shapovalov won singles ties against Reilly Opelka and Taylor Fritz respectively to secure victory over the United States while France had earlier survived a scare, the tournament’s top seeds needing to win a decisive doubles rubber to beat Japan.
Even without their injured star Kei Nishikori, Japan came close to recording a major upset on the second day at the Caja Magica before experienced French duo Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert pulled the 10-time champions over the line.
Their 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-5 victory against Ben McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama clinched victory for France after Gael Monfils slipped to a surprise 7-5, 6-2 singles loss to world number 73 Yoshihito Nishioka.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had opened with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Uchiyama.
France, on their 100th appearance in the Davis Cup, are one of the favourites this week even if they have been highly sceptical of the controversial changes to the 119-year-old competition.
The new format this year means the tournament takes place in one venue, across a single week, with organisers, among them Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique, hoping a tighter schedule will revitalise the prestigious trophy.
But the three stadiums were all far from full for Tuesday’s early matches.
“I have to say, it is a strange feeling,” said Mahut. “When you play Davis Cup, usually the stadium is full.”
“Actually, it was pretty special because it was the first time I hear myself singing the Marseillaise,” added Herbert.
Elsewhere, Argentina beat Chile 3-0 and Kazakhstan prevailed 2-1 against the Netherlands.
Kazakhstan, who will face Andy Murray and Great Britain in Group E on Wednesday, needed Mikhail Kukushkin and Alexander Bublik to win the doubles rubber 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) against Dutch pair Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer.