Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic have given Australia a commanding 2-0 lead over Slovakia in the Davis Cup World Group playoff in Sydney.
Kyrgios crushed world No.127 Andrej Martin 6-3 6-2 6-4 in Friday’s opening singles rubber before Tomic outclassed 123rd-ranked Jozef Kovalik 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-4 at Ken Rosewall Arena.
The twin wins give Sam Groth and John Peers the chance to wrap up the best-of-five-match tie with a victory over Martin and Igor Zelenay in Saturday’s doubles.
Making his first Davis Cup appearance since a forgettable performance in last year’s quarter-final win over Kazakhstan in Darwin, Kyrgios was more inconvenienced by a nose bleed than his lowly-ranked opponent.
The world No.15 spent much of the final set with a tissue up his left nostril and admitted to relief at overcoming the irritation to collect his first Davis Cup point for Australia in two years.
“It was a bit of a hassle,” Kyrgios said.
“Everyone expects me to go out there and towel the guy but it’s never as easy as that.
“I thought he played some great tennis today. He actually adapted really well to the grass. He was slicing and was very comfortable on it and that third set definitely wasn’t easy.”
After suffering a shock loss to world No.115 Aleksandr Nedovyesov in Darwin, then-Australian captain Wally Masur replaced the temperamental youngster with Sam Groth for the must-win reverse singles.
Kyrgios was then overlooked for Australia’s semi-final loss to Great Britain last year following his infamous sledging of Stan Wawrinka, before missing the first-round defeat to the US at Kooyong in March with a virus.
But the 21-year-old made a welcome – and incident-free – return to national service on Friday to give Australia the early ascendancy in their bid to retain their place in the 16-team World Group for 2017.
Kyrgios bounced back from the disappointment of dropping serve to love in the seventh game of the match to break Martin for a second time and pocket the opening set in just 25 minutes.
He broke the Slovak’s serve for a third straight game to seize the early advantage in the second set and secured a two-set lead with his fifth ace.
The Australian No.1 dropped serve immediately after requiring treatment for his nose bleed to fall behind 3-1 in the third set.
But he quickly regained control to reel off four straight games to take the match after one hour, 40 minutes.
After a tight opening set, Tomic coasted to relatively routine victory over Kovalik to improve his tidy Cup record to 17-4.