Australian tennis ready for generation next
Two of Australia's great hopes showed they were ready to deliver on their talent, while a dream Hopman Cup farewell has ended for veteran Lleyton Hewitt.
Less than 24 hours after Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios turned in brilliant performances on either side of the country, hopes of an all-Australian Hopman Cup final were dashed when Hewitt was beaten 4-6 6-3 6-4 by Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov in a Group A clash in Perth.
Combined with Jarmila Wolfe's 6-3 6-3 loss to Elina Svitolina, it meant the end of the road for Australia Gold, with the unbeaten Ukraine booking its place in tomorrow's final.
Dolgopolov said he was pleased to have taken the match after dropping the first set against Hewitt who was playing his eighth and final Hopman Cup.
"When you come on court with Hewitt, you know he's going to fight," the world No.36 said.
"I'm happy I didn't give it away."
Ukraine's opponent will be decided today, with the Australia Green team of Kyrgios and Daria Gavrilova needing to beat France in the evening session to book its place in the final.
Kyrgios set the crowd of more than 13,000 at the Perth Arena alight on Wednesday night when he beat world No.2 Andy Murray 6-4 7-6 in an epic singles encounter.
The young Australian controlled his volatile temper for most of the match, although he did have words with a spectator at one stage, suggesting his critic may want to "come down here" to show him how to play.
Kyrgios was solid throughout the match, serving well and fighting hard when he was behind in games, although there was the usual smattering of "slam dunk" smashes, through the legs "tweeners" and shots behind his back.
Having lost to Murray in their previous four clashes, Kyrgios said he had been looking forward to adding the Scot's name to his growing list of victims that includes former world No.1s Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
"I was looking forward to that match for a long, long time when I was back in Canberra and Brisbane training," the 20-year-old said.
"I knew what to expect. He's a top player and I love playing him. We're good friends. I knew that it was going to be tough and I played some really, really good tennis."
Tomic also had to dig deep in his second-round clash at the Brisbane International, coming back from 0-3 in the tie-break to beat Radek Stepanek 7-6 4-6 7-6, his first win over the Czech in four matches.
That earned the Aussie a quarter-final against Japan's Kei Nishikori for the second year running.
Nishikori said he wouldn't take Tomic, now ranked a career-high 18, lightly.
"He's one of the very talented players (on tour)," the world No.8 said. "He has great serve and he reads (the return) very good.
"I'm sure he's going to be playing better and better the next few years."