NICK Kyrgios (20) and Daria Gavrilova (21) may have walked away with victory but Lleyton Hewitt was the crowd favourite at Perth Arena during the Australians’ opening Hopman Cup matches on Sunday.
Hopman Cup debutant Jiri Vesely (22), from the Czech Republic, stormed to a 4-0 lead in the first set before 34-year-old Hewitt started his comeback and won the next two games to eventually go down 3-6.
The second set went on serve forcing a tie-break that Hewitt won convincingly.
The Perth crowd was well and truly behind the eight-time Hopman Cup player and 2003 finalist but a victorious last hurrah at the Perth Arena was not meant to be. He went down 3-6, 7-6, 4-6 to the left-handed, 198cm Czech.
“I got better as the match went on… I haven’t played competition singles since the US Open,” Hewitt said. “He’s (Jiri) a quality player, he’s got a big first and second serve.”
Hewitt’s Australia Gold partner Jarmila Wolfe (28) lost 5-7, 3-6 against Karolina Pliskova (23) and the Australian duo went down 2-6, 5-7 in the mixed doubles.
Earlier in the day, Kyrgios required three sets to beat 18-year-old German Alexander Zverev in 35C heat.
The first set started on serve until Zverev, whose serve rarely dropped below 210km/h, broke the Australian’s serve to lead 5-3, eventually taking the first set 6-4.
Kyrgios dominated the second set 6-1 and broke Zverev’s serve to be 5-3 in the third, eventually winning 6-4.
“It’s good to start the year with a win,” Kyrgios said.
Kyrgios said he was looking forward to playing Great Britain’s Andy Murray on Wednesday night.
Gavrilova got Australia Green off to a winning start before the men’s match, beating Sabine Lisicki (26) 6-2 6-2.
The Australia duo made it a clean sweep, beating the Germans 6-3 4-6 10-7 in the mixed doubles.