Wed, 30 Sep 2020

Bushfire crisis cools notorious Kyrgios temper

21 Jan 2020, 23:43 GMT+10

Melbourne - Nick Kyrgios on Tuesday said Australia's bushfire disaster had given him perspective and focus, making him realise there were more important things than getting mad on a tennis court.

Long a polarising figure for his on-court antics, the enigmatic 24-year-old has won new fans for his efforts to mobilise support for victims of the deadly blazes, and he was welcomed at the Australian Open by huge roars.

He thrived in the Melbourne Arena atmosphere, grinding down Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/1) to book a second round berth.

"I was just really excited to get out here. Obviously a pretty emotional couple of months for all of us, so I just wanted to come out and put on a good performance," said the Australian, who has never gone beyond the last eight at a Major.

"This is my favourite court in the world... I feel super-comfortable. You guys are the best. I feel the support."

Kyrgios said ahead of the tournament he was finding it hard to concentrate on his home Grand Slam after the emotions sparked by the fires that have devastated huge tracts of Australia.

But he rose to the challenge and the 23rd seed did so in largely drama-free fashion, keeping himself calm for most of the match.

"I was definitely really nervous walking out there. But, I mean, the crowd was unbelievable. I got comfortable quite early in the match," he said.

"I'm just playing for a lot more than myself. I've said it before... there's not necessarily added pressure. I feel like I'm playing for a lot of people."

Kyrgios was a driving force in drumming up fundraising efforts for the bushfire recovery, including a 'Rally for Relief' exhibition match which collected more than Aus$5.0 million (US$3.4 million).

The controversial figure, who was handed a 16-week suspended ban in September after a series of outbursts, said the whole experience had given him pause for thought.

"I guess it's just a perspective thing, isn't it?" he said. "Why am I really getting mad on the tennis court with everything going on?

"I felt like I was very focused today. Every match I've played this year, I've been pretty good. It's probably because of everything going on."

McEnroe praise

Kyrgios and Sonego were locked at 2-2 in the first set before the Australian claimed a first break and then motored through his next service game, dropping one point on Sonego's next serve to open a 5-2 lead before sealing the set.

They were inseparable in the second set as the lights on Melbourne Arena briefly went out, with coachless Kyrgios heard saying: "You know how hard it is to block that out, it's impossible."

But with ATP Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt watching from his box, he came through a tense tie-breaker to go two sets ahead.

Displaying all his tricks, including some trademark "tweeners", Kyrgios closed out the match in another testing tiebreaker as the crowd went wild, with a second round clash looming against either France's Gilles Simon or Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas.

With Kyrgios not facing a single break point, television commentator John McEnroe lavished praise on his booming serve - and also pledged Aus$1,000 to the bushfire fund for every set the Australian wins.

"He has actually got one of the best serves I've ever seen," said the tennis legend. "Top 10, ever. He has got pop. He can do anything with it."

Results on day two of the Australian Open Grand Slam at Melbourne Park on Tuesday:

Men's singles

1st round

Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Hugo Dellien (BOL) 6-2, 6-3, 6-0

Federico Del Bonis (ARG) bt Joao Sousa (POR) 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)

Peter Gojowczyk (GER) bt Christopher Eubanks (USA) 7-6 (7/1), 6-3, 4-6, 6-0

Pablo Carreno-Busta (ESP x27) bt Jozef Kovalk (SVK) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/2)

Nick Kyrgios (AUS x23) bt Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-2, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/1)

Mikael Ymer (SWE) bt Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 6-4, 6-1, 6-2

Karen Khachanov (RUS x16) bt Mario Vilella (ESP) 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3

Gael Monfils (FRA x10) bt Lu Yen-Hsun (TPE) 6-1, 6-4, 6-2

Ivo Karlovic (CRO) bt Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 7-5

Aljaz Bedene (SLO) bt James Duckworth (AUS) 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-4

Ernests Gulbis (LAT) bt Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN x20) 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4

Taylor Fritz (USA x29) bt Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 6-3, 6-3, 6-3

Alex Bolt (AUS) bt Albert Ramos (ESP) 7-6 (7/1), 1-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4

Dominic Thiem (AUT x5) bt Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3, 7-5, 6-2

Daniil Medvedev (RUS x4) bt Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2

Pedro Martinez (ESP) bt Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-3, 6-4, 7-5

Jaume Munar (ESP) bt Hugo Gaston (FRA) 7-5, 5-7, 6-0, 6-3

Alexei Popyrin (AUS) bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x28) 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-1 ret

Andreas Seppi (ITA) bt Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)

Stan Wawrinka (SUI x15) bt Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-4

David Goffin (BEL x11) bt Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-4, 6-3, 6-1

Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) bt Cameron Norrie (GBR) 7-5, 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4

Yuichi Sugita (JPN) bt Elliot Benchetrit (FRA) 6-2, 6-0, 6-3

Andrey Rublev (RUS x17) bt Christopher O'Connell (AUS) 6-3, 0-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5)

Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO x26) bt Kwon Soon-woo (KOR) 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3

Fernando Verdasco (ESP) bt Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) 7-5, 6-2, 6-1

Alexander Zverev (GER x7) bt Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3

Tennys Sandgren (USA) bt Marco Trungelliti (ARG) 6-1, 6-4, 7-5

Jordan Thompson (AUS) bt Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-4, 6-3, 6-2

Fabio Fognini (ITA x12) bt Reilly Opelka (USA) 3-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (10/5)

Jannik Sinner (ITA) bt Max Purcell (AUS) 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-4

Tommy Paul (USA) bt Leonardo Mayer (ARG) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4

Hubert Hurkacz (POL x31) bt Dennis Novak (AUT) 6-7 (4/7), 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4

John Millman (AUS) bt Ugo Humbert (FRA) 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 1-6, 7-5

Filip Krajinovic (SRB) bt Quentin Halys (FRA) 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 4-6, 7-5

Christian Garin (CHI) bt Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4

Milos Raonic (CAN x32) bt Lorenzo Giustino (ITA) 6-2, 6-1, 6-3

Benot Paire (FRA x21) bt Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-0

Marin Cilic (CRO) bt Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4

Michael Mmoh (USA) bt Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-1, 6-4, 6-4

Roberto Bautista (ESP x9) bt Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-2, 6-2, 7-5

Diego Schwartzman (ARG x14) bt Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-4, 6-2, 6-2

Alejandro Davidovich (ESP) bt Norbert Gombos (SVK) 4-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2

Marc Polmans (AUS) bt Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (8/10), 6-4

Dusan Lajovic (SRB x24) bt Kyle Edmund (GBR) 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)

Tatsuma Ito (JPN) bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) 6-4, 6-2, 7-5

Gilles Simon (FRA) bt Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-1, 6-3, 6-3

Women's singles

1st round

Polona Hercog (SLO) bt Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-3, 6-3

Greet Minnen (BEL) bt Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 7-5

Elena Rybakina (KAZ x29) bt Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-3, 6-2

Alison Riske (USA x18) bt Wang Yafan (CHN) 7-6 (7/5), 2-6, 6-3

Madison Keys (USA x10) bt Darya Kasatkina (RUS) 6-3, 6-1

Arantxa Rus (NED) bt Magda Linette (POL) 1-6, 6-3, 6-4

Nao Hibino (JPN) bt Shuai Peng (CHN) 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3

Maria Sakkari (GRE x22) bt Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 6-2, 6-2

Ons Jabeur (TUN) bt Johanna Konta (GBR x12) 6-4, 6-2

Caroline Garcia (FRA) bt Madison Brengle (USA) 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-2

Dayana Yastremska (UKR x23) bt Kaja Juvan (SLO) 6-1, 6-1

Wang Qiang (CHN x27) bt Pauline Parmentier (FRA) 7-6 (7/2), 6-3

Fiona Ferro (FRA) bt Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-2, 6-1

Belinda Bencic (SUI x6) bt Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-3, 7-5

Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) bt Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 6-1, 6-4

Donna Vekic (CRO x19) bt Maria Sharapova (RUS) 6-3, 6-4

Alize Cornet (FRA) bt Monica Niculescu (ROU) 5-7, 6-1, 6-0

Catherine Bellis (USA) bt Tatjana Maria (GER) 6-0, 6-2

Karolina Muchova (CZE x20) bt Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (10/7)

Danielle Collins (USA x26) bt Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) 6-1, 3-6, 6-4

Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) bt Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 6-1, 6-3

Harriet Dart (GBR) bt Misaki Doi (JPN) 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10/6)

Simona Halep (ROU x4) bt Jennifer Brady (USA) 7-6 (7/5), 6-1

Elina Svitolina (UKR x5) bt Katie Boulter (GBR) 6-4, 7-5

Lauren Davis (USA) bt Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-4, 6-2

Garbine Muguruza (ESP) bt Shelby Rogers (USA) 0-6, 6-1, 6-0

Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) bt Anastasija Sevastova (LAT x31) 6-1, 6-1

Zarina Diyas (KAZ) bt Amanda Anisimova (USA x21) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3

Anna Blinkova (RUS) bt Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 7-5, 6-4

Arina Rodionova (AUS) bt Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-0

Kiki Bertens (NED x9) bt Irina Begu (ROU) 6-1, 6-4

Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) bt Marketa Vondrousova (CZE x15) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4

Camila Giorgi (ITA) bt Antonia Lottner (GER) 6-3, 6-3

Priscilla Hon (AUS) bt Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 6-3, 6-4

Angelique Kerber (GER x17) bt Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 6-2, 6-2

Laura Siegemund (GER) bt Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 6-1, 6-4

Karolina Pliskova (CZE x2) bt Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-1, 7-5

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