Demon begins summer of tennis with nail-biting loss as Brit causes upset
Australia are in early trouble at the United Cup after world No.12 Alex de Minaur lost his men’s singles match to Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie.
De Minaur looked rusty as he was broken in his opening game on the way to losing the first set in Friday night’s encounter at Perth’s RAC Arena.
The Aussie number one found his feet in the second set, but things fell apart in the third-set tiebreak as Norrie secured the 6-4 2-6 7-6 (7-2) win in two hours 20 minutes.
De Minaur served a double fault at 6-2 down in the tiebreak to hand the world No.18 victory.
The result means Ajla Tomljanovic must beat Katie Boulter in the women’s singles to keep Australia alive in the tie.
Australia also face defending champions USA in their ‘group of death’, meaning a loss to Britain would leave them with a mountain to climb in order to secure a quarter-final berth.
De Minaur looked well off his game in the first set.
The 24-year-old saved an early break point in the second set, then broke Norrie to go 4-2 up before sealing the stanza with a stunning forehand down the line.
The third set was a tight affair, but Norrie held his nerve in the tiebreak to silence the home crowd.
Earlier in the day, Beatriz Haddad Maia fell short in her bid to drag Brazil home in the United Cup opener against Spain, the South Americans falling 2-1 in a tense Perth tie.
World No.26 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina got Spain off to a flyer, routing Thiago Seyboth Wild, ranked No.79 in the world, 6-4 6-0.
Brazil levelled the tie, with Haddad Maia grinding down Sara Sorribes Tormo 7-6 (7-1) 6-2.
Haddad Maia was named 2023’s Woman of the Year by GQ Brazil after becoming the first female from her country to break into the world’s top 10 and reach the French Open semi-finals.
She broke open a tight contest with a flurry of breaks in the second set, ensuring no repeat of a near-four-hour Roland Garros tussle in their last encounter.
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The two players were straight back out for the decisive mixed doubles, with Spain winning 6-4 7-5.