Nick Kyrgios served his way out of trouble in a gruelling hour-long second set. (AP: Bernat Armangue)
Nick Kyrgios has given Australia a 1-0 Davis Cup lead against Belgium, beating the gutsy Steve Darcis 6-2 7-6 (10-8) in Madrid.
Kyrgios largely kept his emotions in check to see off the wily 35-year-old who has been Australia’s nemesis in two previous Davis Cup encounters in a match delayed by more than two hours.
World number 30 Kyrgios powered through the opening set in 24 minutes and then held his nerve against a much-improved Darcis in a high-quality 61-minute second set in front of a boisterous crowd dominated by Belgian fans.
Once again Kyrgios held his serve throughout, hurling down 22 aces — including an incredible nine in 10 points in the latter stages of the second set.
But world number 158 Darcis refused to lie down and saved two match points — one from a 21-shot rally and the second from a 31-shot extravaganza.
Kyrgios did well to hold firm when it mattered and saved two set points to close out the win and repeat his victory over the Belgian number two from two years ago in Brussels.
Australia number one Alex de Minaur will face world number 11 David Goffin in the second rubber of a tie that is almost certain to finish in the early hours of the morning.
The final doubles rubber will see John Peers and Jordan Thompson meet Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen.
Great Britain’s marathon 2-1 win against the Netherlands earlier on Court Three, which saw all three rubbers go the distance, kept Australia and Belgium waiting.
Victory for Australia will see them top Group D where they will meet Canada in the quarter-finals, once again in the late timeslot on Thursday (0400 Friday AEDT).