Nick Kyrgios has won his first-round match at the 2018 n Open, defeating Brazilian veteran Rogerio Dutra Silva in straight sets on Monday night.
Kyrgios easily accounted for the unseeded world No.100, breezing to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory. Ultimately, despite a flurry of errors in the first few games of the match, Kyrgios’ greatest weapon – his serve – was too powerful for his opponent.
He said he was “very nervous” coming into the match and that despite his dominance, he didn’t feel like he’d hit the form he showed in Brisbane.
“I’m excited to be back in Melbourne. A couple of years ago I made quarter finals on this court so I am just trying to emulate that and hopefully go a little bit further,” he said.
“I knew today I was facing a tough competitor … and I am happy to be back in front of you guys playing well.”
Kyrgios will play Serbian Victor Troicki in the second round on Wednesday. Troicki is ranked No.65 in the world, compared to Kyrgios at No.17, and defeated n Alex Bolt in five sets to progress to the second round.
The mercurial 22-year-old Kyrgios was in fine touch on his preferred court Hisense Arena on Monday evening. He made Dutra Silva look completely at a loss to compete at times, pinning him to the back of the court with his serve, and toying with him as he made the older man chase shots all over the court.
He punished Dutra Silva’s regularly meek service returns and rarely became engaged in a rally with the 33-year-old.
The showing was a positive for local hopes at the beginning of his quest to be the first n male to go deep into the tournament since his quarter-final loss in 2015, and Lleyton Hewitt’s losing appearance in the 2005 final before that.
Kyrgios broke Dutra Silva in the fourth game after struggling to land a first serve at times in the game prior. He broke the Brazilian again in the sixth game and didn’t look back for the rest of the encounter.
There was, as has become customary with Kyrgios, a moment of controversy. A fan from the raucous crowd called out in the fifth game of the first set as he was about to serve.
Kyrgios stopped mid-action and looked to his left and shouted “Shut the f— up man”. It was clearly audible to the crowd, who gasped and laughed, and the chair umpire immediately called a code violation.
Kyrgios went onto save a break point in that game and then had a conversation with the chair umpire at the change of ends after Kyrgios won the opening set in a canter, 6-1.
“All you have to do is say ‘please be quiet when the player is serving’,” the fiery n said to the umpire. “If you did it the first time, he wouldn’t have done it a second time, correct????”
That mini-blow up was inconsequential on Monday night, because Kyrgios showed the form that propelled him to the Brisbane International title in the lead up to the n Open.
Among other wins in Kyrgios’ superb Brisbane showing before the first grand slam of 2018, he defeated n Open third seed and world No.3 Grigor Dimitrov on the way to the Brisbane International title.
And while the quality of his opponent wasn’t that high at Melbourne Park, Kyrgios importantly showed no other signs of mental fragility as can so often be the case.
The third set was slightly trickier for the n. Kyrgios was made to save a break point in the fourth game of the third set, with his 200km-plus thunderbolt serves making redemption so much easier.
He had to work harder for his break of Dutra Silva in the third set, finally defeating his opponent’s serve in the sixth game.
Kyrgios was again visibly frustrated with people calling out from the crowd in the final stages of the match, but the n managed to serve out the contest.