Kyrgios, after year of tennis inactivity, brushed off his rustiness to claim his first win by rallying from a set down, to progress into round two of the Murray River Open and get his preparations for the Australian Open underway.
I was just excited to come out here, any opponent for me was going to be tricky, I just wanted to find my feet Nick Kyrgios
The controversial 25-year-old from Canberra last played in February 2020 at the Acapulco Open, before a wrist injury and then the coronavirus pandemic brought his season to a halt.
By opting oy of the US Open and French Open, he has used the time away from the court to rest and has made his ‘comeback’ mentally refreshed and eager to play.
His first opponent was the Frenchman Alexandre Muller who took full advantage of Kyrgios’s lack of play to take the first set. However, after some knee treatment, the Australian dug deep to turn the match around and secure a 3-6 6-4 7-6(4) against his lower ranked opponent.
“It was a tricky one, I haven’t played a competitive match in about a year and I dealt with a couple of injuries when in quarantine,” he said.
“I was just excited to come out here, any opponent for me was going to be tricky, I just wanted to find my feet.
“I just somehow pulled it out of a hat, which seems to be the story of my career, so just happy to get through. The body feels ok.”
Now ranked 47, he will next play fellow Australian Harry Bourchier.
“We’re basically brothers,” Kyrgios said of his next opponent. “He’s a good player, big serve, and we know each other back to front.
“I’m just relieved it’s not someone that I don’t know again. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m just going to go out there, have a bit of fun.”
It was another good day for the home nation as Alexei Popyrin, James Duckworth and Andrew Harris all joined Kyrgios in the second round.
Duckworth defeated the Czech Tomas Machac 6-3 6-4 comfortably while Popyrin was forced to fight hard to earn his place in the second round, saving six match points in a 6-7(8) 7-6(2) 7-6(7) victory over Croatia’s Borna Gojo.
He also saved four match points in the second set and another two in a tense third-set tiebreak, before closing out victory after two hours and 34-minutes on court.
Harris also won a three-set battle, prevailing against Japan’s Taro Daniel 5-7 6-4 7-5 to score his first ATP main draw victory.