© Mike Frey/ATP Tour

Alex de Minaur, captain Lleyton Hewitt and Nick Kyrgios look to please the home crowd at the ATP Cup in Brisbane.

De Minaur, Aussies Ready For Revenge Match Against Germany

Kyrgios vs. Struff kicks off Friday evening contest

Aussie Alex de Minaur has the same quickness and ferocious determination that he had two years ago when he faced Germany's Alexander Zverev in a team competition in Brisbane.

But in about every other meaningful way, De Minaur is a completely different player than he was when he and Zverev played in February 2018.

De Minaur was No. 139 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and making his Davis Cup debut. The then-18-year-old, still pushed Zverev, though, losing in a fifth-set tie-break, and Germany won the tie

Two years later, however, De Minaur is a three-time ATP Tour titlist, No. 18 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and the No. 1 singles player in his country.

He and Australia will have a chance to avenge that 2018 loss on Friday afternoon when he and Zverev meet again in Brisbane at the ATP Cup. The countries' No. 2 singles players – Jan-Lennard Struff (Germany) and Nick Kyrgios (Australia) – will start the rubber at 5:30 p.m.

Obviously, there's a couple years' more experience. I've had a couple good years on Tour, and I'm very happy with where I am right now,” De Minaur said on Thursday. “I know it's going to be an incredibly tough match, but I'm really looking forward to it. I think I've put in a lot of hard work through the pre-season and I feel ready for a new year.”

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The home country's top hope climbed 13 spots in the FedEx ATP Rankings in 2019. The year prior, De Minaur jumped 177 places, from No. 208 to No. 31. The two-time Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up is eyeing another big leap in 2020.

I had probably about a week and a half of holidays, and then we came over here to Oz and started the pre-season,” De Minaur said. “It was a real big focus because we had such an unbelievable year last year, so we wanted to make sure to be in the best possible position to try and come out and do it all again, especially knowing that coming up here, my first three matches are against such high-level opponents, so I've got to be ready.”

Zverev leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 4-0, and De Minaur has yet to take a set off him since their five-setter in Brisbane. But the German No. 1 is well aware of how much De Minaur has improved in the past two years.

“Back then he was an up-and-coming young guy, and now he's Top 20 in the world. It's different, but we played a lot of good matches with Alex. I think that the Davis Cup match here was the best one that we played. I mean, 7-6 in the fifth set, we played over four hours,” Zverev said. “It's not easy against him because he's not somebody that will give you a lot, and I will know exactly where I stand after that match.”

Australia, with De Minaur at No. 18, has the lowest-ranked top singles player in Group F, which also includes Greece (No. 5 Tsitsipas), Germany (No. 7 Zverev) and Canada (No. 15 Shapovalov). But the Aussies, with Kyrgios at No. 2 singles and Chris Guccione/John Peers ready for doubles, boast one of the deepest teams in the field.

Despite the “bloody tough” group, Captain Lleyton Hewitt expects the home nation to thrive in Pat Rafter Arena.

If they go out there and execute how they have been playing, I fully back them in any of these matches, but we're still going to have to go out there and play really well,” Hewitt said. “We get no easy matches.”

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