Hopman Cup victory ushers in new era for Australian tennis

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Australia have broken a 17-year hoodoo winning the Hopman Cup - the annual mixed teams event played in Perth in the lead up to the Australian Open. With the team of Nick Kyrgios and Daria Gavrilova defeating Ukraine two rubbers to love in the final.

For the first time in the tournament's history there were two Australian teams Australia Green (Kyrgios and Gavrilova) and Australia Gold (Lleyton Hewitt and Jarmila Wolve).

While the Hewitt/Wolve combination didn't get past the group stage, Kyrgios and Gavrilova were very strong throughout and arguably saved their best performance for the final.


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Russian-born Gavrilova made the perfect start for the home team, winning the first match 6-4 7-6 against the 19th ranked player in the world Elina Svitolina. Gavrilova's win was even more impressive as she was down 6-1 in the tie-break and went on to win seven straight points to put Australia one-nil up.

The men's match was also a straight-sets encounter with Kyrgios defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3 6-4 to seal the triumph. Kyrgios played with a lot of freedom and with the 12,000 packed crowd truly on his side, he never gave his opponent a chance with a superb exhibition of serving.

It was a mighty effort by the duo,who won a dramatic doubles clash against France the night before to qualify for the final. With the final being played less than 24 hours later, it didn't leave much time for recovery.

It was a triumph in more ways than one for the 20-year-old Kyrgios, who has had no end of drama and criticism in his fledgling career to date. Defeating Andy Murray for the first time, and winning his first major honour as a senior professional - for his country no less - are extremely positive developments.

There are indeed some parallels to a player who last helped win this tournament for Australia in 1999 - Mark Philippoussis.

Like Kyrgios he had a whole lot of natural talent, but his dedication to his craft was often questioned due to his care-free style. However, he eventually won a lot of people around by playing a major role in winning the Davis Cup in that same year.

For the 21-year-old Gavrilova, it is the beginning of a new chapter in her career and life in general. Having become a Australian Citizen in 2015, the enormity of the achievement started to hit home.

"I just won something as a Australian and for Australia so it means a lot. Just representing Australia for the first time and winning this straight away is amazing," Gavrilova said.

For Australian tennis, it will be an emotional few weeks ahead with the pending retirement of Hewitt - the iconic figure who has served his nation so well for over 15 years.

It is up to the next generation to carry on his great work and this win is the ideal start.

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Lleyton Hewitt
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