Millmania! Kyrgios replacement steps up in style
HOMETOWN hero John Millman has proved a more than capable replacement for the injured Nick Kyrgios, beating Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4 6-2 to give Australia a 1-0 lead over Canada in their ATP Cup Group F clash.
With Kyrgios hindered by a sore back, Millman answered the call of captain Lleyton Hewitt at Pat Rafter Arena.
"Millmania" was alive and kicking, with the 30-year-old Brisbane product nullifying the power game of Auger-Aliassime, ranked 27 places higher than the Queenslander at number 21.
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The win went some way towards exorcising Millman's Davis Cup demons after he blamed himself for Australia's quarter-final loss to Canada in November when as a replacement for Kyrgios, he was beaten 7-6 6-4 by Vasek Pospisil.
Millman and Auger-Aliassime had met once previously, with the Canadian teenager winning 7-6 7-5 in May last year (2019) in a round-of-16 clash on clay in Lyon.
But it was a different story on blue hardcourts of Brisbane, with Millman's fighting spirit evident from his first service game.
Down 0-40, Millman fought back to win the next five points to level proceedings at 1-1.
However the power of the Canadian was too much for Millman in the fourth game, with Auger-Aliassime breaking to lead 3-1.
But Millman's response was automatic, breaking back in the next game.
It was part of nine-point run that helped Millman secure successive service breaks to take control of the set.
Fittingly he closed the 51-minute set with an ace.
Having broken the spirit of Auger-Aliassime, Millman ruthlessly finished the job in the second set, breaking the Canadian's serve twice to seal the match in one hour and 41 minutes.