Tennis: Tweener, ticking-off as 'pretty average' Kyrgios among Melbourne first-round winners

Nick Kyrgios (above) cruised past Portuguese qualifier Frederico Ferreira Silva in straight sets.
Nick Kyrgios (above) cruised past Portuguese qualifier Frederico Ferreira Silva in straight sets.PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE (AFP) - A typically vocal Nick Kyrgios made a winning start to his home Grand Slam on Monday (Feb 8), cruising past Portuguese qualifier Frederico Ferreira Silva in straight sets and winning one point with a tweener.

The volatile Kyrgios, who reached the Australian Open's last 16 last year, is targeting a maiden Slam title with quarter-finals in Melbourne and at Wimbledon his best showings so far.

He mostly kept his cool in the impressive 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 drubbing against an opponent ranked 184, but it didn't start well.

The unseeded Kyrgios was broken on his opening service game and the on-court microphone picked him up saying to his box: "Are you awake? You're saying one thing for two games."

In the next game a frustrated Kyrgios yelled: "Tell your girlfriend to get out of my box."

But he settled down and composed himself to break back then break again to wrap up the first set.

In the second set and, with his serve firing, he raced through the match, treating the crowd to a successful tweener shot between his legs as Ferreira Silva served to stay in the contest.

"It was special," he said of his first Grand Slam match in a year in front of a noisy crowd but reduced-capacity crowd at John Cain Arena.

"It felt normal to be honest, you guys were going nuts and it as good to see."

Despite the straight-set win, Kyrgios said it was far from his best tennis.

"Honestly, it was pretty average. I haven't played a Grand Slam match in over a year and I was definitely nervous," he said.

Also, defending champion Novak Djokovic blasted past Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 romp in just 91 minutes to ominously kick off his bid for an unprecedented ninth Australian Open title.

The Serb world No. 1, chasing an 18th Slam crown to close in on the 20 held by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, has likened his relationship with the Australian Open to "a love affair".

"It feels great, so great to see people back in the stadium," he said.

"I'm really glad to see a lot of people actually - this is the most I've seen on a tennis court in 12 months."

He next faces American Frances Tiafoe in a tricky side of the draw with 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka and former world No. 3 Milos Raonic potential obstacles en route to the quarter-finals.

But there was no happy start for Japanese Kei Nishikori, who felt he played some of his best tennis since elbow surgery in 2019 but it still wasn't enough to prevent a first-round defeat.

Nishikori, a four-time quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park who has slid down the rankings to 41, was outlasted by Spain's Pablo Carreno-Busta 7-5, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.

Last year's losing finalist, Dominic Thiem, survived 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, 6-3 against Kazakh veteran Mikhail Kukushkin while sixth seed Alexander Zverev was a 6-7 (8-10), 7-6(7-5), 6-3, 6-2 winner over unheralded American Marcos Giron.