Australia Qualifies For Final Eight In Sydney
Team Australia is headed to Sydney. The host country of the ATP Cup became the first team to qualify for the Final Eight, which starts Thursday, when Germany (1-1) beat Greece (0-2) in Group F late Sunday night in Brisbane.
On Sunday afternoon, Alex de Minaur rallied from a set down to win for the second time in as many matches and put the host country in Final Eight qualification position.
De Minaur beat Canada's Denis Shapovalov 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2 in a battle of 20-year-old #NextGenATP stars and clinched the tie for the home country.
“I managed to turn things around, get back into a positive mindset, get my energy back,” De Minaur said. “I think it's all energy. It's good that in the back of my head I know that all the hard work I've put in in the pre-season, so I know that my body's ready to keep on going for however long it takes.”
Shapovalov was in control, up a set and a break at 7-6(6), 4-2. But De Minaur, with the green and gold fans roaring in a packed Pat Rafter Arena, broke Shapovalov back and rode the momentum the rest of the way. From 2-4 down in the second set, the Aussie No. 1 won six consecutive games to lead 2-0 in the deciding set.
“I felt like the win was right there in my hands, set and a break up and everything was kind of going my way,” Shapovalov said. “[In] the second set, I didn't do much wrong. I made a couple mistakes, but that's normal, and he really took advantage and just really played just super, super solid. I mean, he wasn't giving me anything.”
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Australia qualifies for the Final Eight as the Group F winner if Germany beats Greece later Sunday as Australia beat Germany on Friday. De Minaur also came back from a set down against World No. 7 Alexander Zverev to clinch the opening tie.
Millman came to his hometown of Brisbane as his country's No. 3 singles player and was ready to play a supporting role all week at the inaugural 24-team tournament being played in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.
But he was thrust into action when Kyrgios pulled out just before the 10 a.m. singles match.
“It's always difficult, a late call up, but it doesn't get much easier in a difficult circumstance than when you get to play here in Brisbane, a place where you're familiar with the court and the surroundings and you know that you're going to have a vocal crowd in your corner,” Millman said.
The 30-year-old Queenslander fell behind 1-3 but settled into his home Pat Rafter Arena, testing Auger-Aliassime with long rallies in steamy conditions.
The two played on clay in Lyon last year, a straight-sets win for Auger-Aliassime. But Millman left with with an impression of the 19-year-old's game.
“Felix is always going to take pretty big cuts at the ball. He's brash and he's bold and he's got a lot of confidence in his game. He likes to get that first hit away,” Millman said. “So I knew I was going to have to fight off a fair few balls. And that first game was a bit of a wake-up call. But you also know in the back of your mind, that it's a long match.”
Millman made Auger-Aliassime grind out rallies, and the Canadian finished with 42 unforced errors to 23 winners. After the slow start, Millman won 11 of the final 14 games.