It’s not quite a Djokovic v Murray rivalry just yet, but tennis fans got a glimpse into the future when Australian bad boy Nick Kyrgios took down rising German star Alexander Zverev at the Hopman Cup on Sunday.
Kyrgios overcame a slow start to beat world No.83 Zverev 4-6 6-1 6-4 at Perth Arena.
The win gave the Australia Green team an unassailable 2-0 lead in their Hopman Cup tie against Germany after Daria Gavrilova beat Sabine Lisicki 6-2 6-2 earlier in the day.
Zverev is already being touted as a potential future grand slam champion, with the 18-year-old the youngest current player in the top 100.
Kyrgios, who has risen to 30th in the world, also appears destined for grand slam silverware if he can keep his temper in check.
The duo slugged it out in an entertaining affair at Perth Arena on Sunday, with Kyrgios coming out on top following a dominant second set that flipped momentum his way.
“I really like the kid,” Kyrgios said of Zverev.
“I think he’s got a great future ahead and he’s a great athlete for his size and moves well and serves big.
“I don’t see it as a rivalry, but I guess we’re going to be playing a lot of big games in the future.”
Zverev said both he and Kyrgios knew their potential, but they weren’t getting carried away just yet.
“We all know how good we are. We have a quite similar game style,” Zverev said.
“We both serve quite well and try to be aggressive from the base line.
“If we can have a rivalry like Novak (Djokovic) and Andy (Murray), or Novak and Rafael (Nadal) … it is unbelievable.
“But there is still a long way ahead of us and we are only at the beginning of our careers.”
For the first time in the Hopman Cup’s 28-year history, Australia are being represented by two different teams.
Veterans Lleyton Hewitt and Jarmila Wolfe (nee Gajdosova) are in the Australia Gold set-up, with Kyrgios and Gavrilova representing Australia Green.
Hewitt, who will retire after the Australian Open, has become a mentor to Kyrgios in recent times.
“He has been helping me a lot over the last year,” Kyrgios said of the newly-appointed Davis Cup captain.
“Hopefully he can finish with a bang.
“I keep saying: ‘Don’t go. Don’t go’.
Australia wrapped up the tie 3-0 with a 6-3 4-6 10-7 (match tiebreak) win in the mixed doubles.