Was Nick Kyrgios Missing Piece That Saw Australia Miss Out On Davis Cup Win Twice

Was Nick Kyrgios Missing Piece That Saw Australia Miss Out On Davis Cup Win Twice

by Nurein Ahmed

For the second year in a row, it was heartbreak and agony for Team Australia, who finished runners-up at the Davis Cup.

Jannik Sinner inspired Italy to their first Davis Cup success since 1976, leaving the nearly-men in green and gold crushed. The second-most successful team in the Davis Cup competition will be back next year to have another shot for title No. 28.

Despite the stark improvement in each of the past two years with a squad replete with talent, with four players ranked in the world's Top 56, including their top-ranked talisman Alex de Minaur (12th), it is hard not to overstate the difference Nick Kyrgos would have made had he been fit.

Obviously, Kyrgios' participation at the event would have been unlikely, even if he made a miraculous last-ditch recovery. Aside from questionable fitness concerns, the 28-year-old has a strained relationship with the country's team captain, Lleyton Hewitt.

Hewitt publicly called out Kyrgios for a "lack of communication" when he pulled out from the United Cup in January without informing him, to which Kyrgios responded furiously on X, accusing the former World No. 1 of "throwing him under the bus."

Still, a fit Nick Kyrgios would have ranked high on Hewitt's list of player nominations at the Davis Cup Finals despite their overall difference in opinion. Yes, Australia possessed a more than capable deputy in Alexei Popyrin, who filled in for Thanasi Kokkniakis, who withdrew due to injury.

But it was de Minaur who shouldered the responsibility of playing and winning a lot all year. Let's not forget the 24-year-old Aussie No. 1 was playing his 74th match of an absorbing and highly demanding year against Sinner last Sunday.

Was Kyrgios the missing piece of the jigsaw? You'd have to agree. Kyrgios would have reduced de Minaur's burden at the tournament, and specifically in the Final 8 in Malaga.

Keeping de Minaur out of the team was unthinkable for Hewitt. It was akin to asking for early elimination because he was Australia's big-stage player capable of getting his country to score the points. And who would dare to forget his incredible comeback against the Czechs?

But Kyrgios' talent and swashbuckling style would have kept his fellow countryman fresh and firing right until the final. There were plenty of winnable rubbers which de Minaur could have sat out and let Kyrgios do the work.

With this year's tournament taking place on fast indoor hard courts, these were conditions which are tailor-made for the 28-year-old. All eight of Kyrgios' career titles have been won on hard courts and he has performed with distinction for his country in Davis Cup competitions since his debut back in 2013.

It was a case of close but no cigar for Australia, whose 20-year wait for the Davis Cup title will extend for another year, but maybe Kyrgios might change the narrative in 2024.


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