It was a perfect start for Nick Kyrgios at the Hopman Cup, but after Daria Gavrilova fell to Lara Arruabarrena in straight sets, Spain stormed back to defeat Australia in the mixed doubles rubber to complete a 2-1 win, yesterday.

Kyrgios was impressive in his 6-3 6-4 win over Feliciano Lopez, powering down 14 aces and racing through the first set in just 23 minutes.

The 21-year-old was pleasantly surprised at how well he’d played given he reduced his on-court practice time during the off-season, and instead focused on boosting his fitness.

“I felt like I was going to be a bit rusty at times. But I played really well today,” Kyrgios said.

“It’s surprising because I haven’t been doing much on the court. I’ve just been trying to get into a good head space and be ready. I was really happy with the level today.”

Kyrgios credited his strength and conditioning coach Martin Skinner for helping him become a better athlete.

Skinner joined the Kyrgios camp in late September, and it’s a love-hate relationship that is starting to bear fruit.

“I hate it. There’s plenty of other things I’d rather do,” Kyrgios said of the new fitness regime.

“He drives me. I’m not the easiest person to get along with at times, and I’m not a good listener. But I know that he’s pretty intelligent in the gym.

“So, I don’t question him too much. He’s been working me pretty good.”

Gavrilova enjoyed a breakout year in 2016, rocketing up to no.25 in the rankings. But the 22-year-old was out of touch against Spain, committing a glut of unforced errors in both the singles and doubles matches.

Spain levelled the tie at 1-1 when world no.66 Lara Arruabarrena notched a shock 7-5 6-1 win over an out-of-sorts Gavrilova.

And Spain prevailed in the Fast4 doubles format, winning 4-0 4-2 to secure the tie 2-1.

“I probably didn’t play great,” Gavrilova said of her singles loss.

“I wasn’t ready for her to play that well to be honest. I felt like I was under pressure the whole time. I was just defending the whole time.”

Australia must now beat the Czech Republic pairing of Lucie Hradecka and Adam Pavlasek tomorrow in to keep their Hopman Cup title defence alive.


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