Pending a show for COVID-weary fans after recovering from his own infection, Nick Kyrgios delivered on Tuesday with a tween-laden 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 win over Britain’s Liam Broady for the second round to reach the Australian Open.
Kyrgios games are box office gold but have been shrunk by the pandemic and there was a risk home fans would miss the Australian at Melbourne Park this year after he tested positive in advance.
But after exiting isolation on Sunday, the tennis maverick returned to the combustible John Cain Arena and gave raucous fans a night to remember as he set up a blockbuster clash with second seed Daniil Medvedev.
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Kyrgios sealed the win with a furious backhand return down the line, dropped an “F-bomb” on the pitch in his televised interview and showed Cristiano Ronaldo’s trademark after goal.
On his way out of the arena, he took a sip of beer from a mug offered to him by a fan. Damn COVID-19.
“I served… well today,” Kyrgios said with an obscenity as fans roared in agreement.
“I don’t know what I did to that crowd since you guys are a zoo now. I’m super happy to be back here.”
It took Kyrgios just minutes to ignite the terraces by breaking Broady in the opening game. He finished the next game with a “tweener” under his arm.
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After starting a fire in the crowd, Kyrgios was unable to control it as fans hooted between serves and yelled at Broady to go home.
“I kind of know I created this… show,” he told chair umpire Nico Helwerth, urging the German to do more to quell the excitement.
Relegated to the straight male in the routine of Kyrgios, there was little for 128th-placed qualifier Broady to do but grin and bear as fans jeered and 41 winners shot past him.
“Everyone says to me, ‘Oh, you’re going to really enjoy it. It’s going to be fantastic.’ But I thought it was absolutely awful,” Broady said.
“It’s the first time I’ve walked onto a tennis court and been booed, which was a crazy experience for me.”
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Kyrgios has a career record 2-0 against US Open champion Medvedev, both wins in 2019, but he has never faced him in a Grand Slam.
Playing a long match against the super-fit Russian could be difficult for Kyrgios after his recent illness – and especially if the match is played outside of the John Cain Arena.
“We’re going to play Rod Laver Arena… Let’s face it, I think so,” he said.