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Australia and Germany finish first Davis Cup day at one-all

Australia and Germany finished the first day of their Davis Cup World Group tie in Brisbane one rubber apiece after Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev both won in vastly contrasting styles on Friday.
Zverev gave Germany the early advantage with a gruelling four-hour win over Alex de Minaur 7-5, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), before Kyrgios disposed of Jan-Lennard Struff in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
The mercurial Kyrgios, who has responded well to the Davis Cup captaincy of Lleyton Hewitt, was in sublime touch against Struff.
The German battled hard but he was a class below the Australian and succumbed in 97 minutes in front of a large and passionate crowd at the Pat Rafter Arena.
Kyrgios had Struff under pressure on serve throughout and broke once in each set for a straightforward win.
“He’s a tough opponent to play against, he doesn’t really give you any rhythm so I thought I did a good job of getting it done pretty quickly and giving myself the best chance to recover, Kyrgios said.
Earlier, Zverev outlasted de Minaur in a four-hour marathon.
The world number five had looked down and out when de Minaur, playing superb defensive tennis against the more attacking German, took a two sets to one lead.
But Zverev fought back to win the fourth set before recovering from an early break in the fifth to force a tiebreak.
He then created a mini-break at 3-4 in the tiebreak and served superbly to take the match and give his country the early advantage.
“I was more aggressive than him from the baseline,” Zverev said.
“I think over five sets the one who is more aggressive probably wins.
“The other one might tire a little bit and get a bit slower.” Zverev, 20, has a disappointing Davis Cup record, with one win and four losses before Friday’s match.
Considered one of the rising stars of the men’s game, he also has a poor Grand Slam record and fell in the third round of the Australian Open.
But the German said he had taken heart from eventual champion Roger Federer, who spoke to him after his loss in Melbourne and told him to keep working hard and success would come.
De Minaur said Zverev’s experience on the big stage helped the German.
“It was all about him being able to get free points on his serve which was decisive,” he said.
“He’s a big guy, a top 10 player and in the decisive moments he was able to come up with a couple of free points.
Japan, Italy all square after epic Davis Cup day In Toky, Japan and Italy were locked at one rubber apiece on Friday after a thrilling first day in their Davis Cup clash, with both singles matches going the full five sets.
On paper, Japan always looked likely to struggle without talisman Kei Nishikori, who is just returning from a wrist injury that had sidelined him for five months.
But Taro Daniel, ranked a lowly 100 in the world in singles, put up a brave fight against the much higher ranked Fabio Fognini in a marathon first match in the compact Morioka Takaya Arena.
The Italian, now ranked 22 in the world, went two sets to one down after a remarkable comeback from Daniel in the third set from 4-2 down.
But the 30-year-old, who has five ATP titles under his belt, showed his experience to clinch the last two sets for a 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win to get former Davis Cup champions Italy off to a flying start after a gruelling four hours.
The second match pitted world number 41 Yuichi Sugita against veteran Andreas Seppi, now ranked 78, in what turned out to be a thrilling rollercoaster of a match.
Sugita looked to have the match sewn up at 4-2 up in the deciding fifth set and had break points to take a 5-2 lead with his serve to come.
But the 33-year-old Seppi, once a top-20 player, clung on to held his serve and then secured a break of his own, taking the match to a nailbiting climax.
Seppi had a match point on the Sugita serve at 6-5 but the Japanese player saved it and took the match into a tie-break.
Sugita raced into a 3-0 lead in the tie-break and despite brilliant retrieving from Seppi, closed out the match to rapturous applause from the home fans 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-1) after three and a half hours.
Saturday’s doubles sees Yasutaka Uchiyama and New Zealand-born Ben Mclachlan take on Simone Bolelli and Paolo Lorenzi, as both teams try to grasp the initiative in the tie.
Japan are looking to reach the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup for only the second time after Nishikori helped them reach the last eight in 2014.
Italy were champions back in 1976 and have finished runners-up on six occasions.