The top seed at the Murray River Open finally made his first on-court appearance on the third day of the ATP 250 event and it proved a bit of a nervy to start with for the three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka.
"It felt okay. I'm happy to get the win and I'm ready to start a new tournament, a new year, especially after a few months out Stan Wawrinka
A former Australian Open champion, the 35-year-old Swiss star, chasing his first title since 2017, battled back from having contracted Covid-19 just before Christmas, to beat Mikhail Kukushkin 4-6 6-3 6-1 in what was his first match of the season.
“It felt okay. I’m happy to get the win and I’m ready to start a new tournament, a new year, especially after a few months out,” said Wawrinka following his victory to confirm his place in round two and a meeting with Aussie Alex Bolt who defeated American Malcolm McDonald 6-4 6-7(5) 7-5.
Remarking on his coming meeting with Wawrinka, Bolt said after his gruelling second round encounter: “Stan, he’s a great of the game. He’s won Slams, he’s one of the best players in the world right now. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to be able to play again.”
Also making his first appearance at the event, Britain’s No.1 Dan Evans, the eighth seed who dispatched Portugal’s Pedro Sousa 6-3 7-5 to face Marcos Giron of the US for a place in the quarter-finals.
Nick Kyrgios was also back in action and it wasn’t long before he became embroiled in an argument with the umpire.
For several minutes he refused to play after receiving a time violation during his 6-2 7-6(7) win over fellow Australian Harry Bourchier, saving three set points in the tight second set.
It was at 5-all of that set that Kyrgios was called for a time violation on his serve prompting him to sit down and call for the supervisor declaring that he had started his service motion when the clock ran down. He vented his anger on the supervisor declaring the umpire was a ‘smart arse’.
“Tennis is not about the umpires,” Kyrgios declared. “He’s an extra to make sure all this s**t goes smoothly.
“I was in the motion of serving. Every technique is different. I wasn’t bouncing the ball.”
The 25-year-old only agreed to continue playing when the supervisor assured him he wouldn’t be fined.
After the match Kyrgios added: “I just like playing by the rules. I didn’t want to play until I made sure I wasn’t going to get fined, because the ATP does me pretty rough all the time, they fine me too much money.”
There were a couple of good results for the home fans with 21-year-old Alexei Popyrin defeating American Tommy Paul 6-4 6-3 in 70-minutes. He was joined in the round of 16 by James Duckworth who toppled the seventh seed Ugo Humbert of France 7-6(6) 6-4 after 95-minutes.
One disappointment for those home fans was the elimination of wild-card Jason Kubler who was ousted following a tough tussle, by Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis 7-6(3) 7-5.