Nick Kyrgios has mixed the good, the bad and the nothing overly ugly in cruising into the second round of the Australian Open.
Australia’s 29th seed was hugely impressive in routing Pablo Carreno Busta 6-2 7-5 6-2 in just one hour and 31 minutes at Hisense Arena on Monday night.
The explosive youngster blitzed the Spaniard with a combination of awesome firepower, stunning precision and deft touch to confirm his status as one of the chief title threats to dominant defending champion Novak Djokovic.
A quarter-finalist last year, Kyrgios barely dropped a point on serve in the opening set, drawing high praise from former world No.1 Jim Courier, who hailed the 20-year-old’s second delivery as possibly the best in the game.
His every move scrutinised following a controversy-laced 2015, Kyrgios’s only slip-ups came in the space of five minutes early in the second set.
He dropped serve from 30-love up in the third game after attempting a flashy leaping forehand and then dropped the F-bomb to draw an audible obscenity from the chair umpire after missing a break-back chance in the ensuing game.
Kyrgios pulled himself back together to draw level and then gain a second, decisive break to snatch the second set to take a stranglehold on the match.
“I think if he keeps his head, he can make a good run here … the sky’s the limit,” injured countryman Thanasi Kokkinakis told Channel Seven while watching from his good mate’s courtside box.
In addition to belting Cerreno Busta, Kyrgios at one point belted out a few lines of Katie Perry during a changeover.
Kokkinakis said Kyrgios the entertainer was “all part of the package”.
“It makes him relaxed,” he said.
Showing no signs of the foot niggle that forced his withdrawal from last week’s Kooyong Classic, Kyrgios chalked up a total of 16 aces and 37 winners and raced through the third set to close out the match with two more service breaks.
“I was actually very nervous coming out here,” Kyrgios said.
“Obviously I haven’t played a real match (this year before this). I played the Hopman Cup and had a great week there.
“Coming out here with the memories I have from last year, it was really special to get the win on my favourite court in the world.
“It was really special to come out and play in front of you fans again and get the win.”
Czech qualifier ousts Stosur
Samantha Stosur’s Melbourne Park malaise remains as debilitating as ever, with the veteran jolted from the Australian Open in straight sets.
Stosur added another chapter to her miserable record at home on Monday night, losing 6-4 7-6 (8-6) to Czech qualifier Kristyna Pliskova.
Fourth-round finishes in 2006 and 2010 remain Stosur’s best results in her home grand slam.
At age 31 that is unlikely to change for the 2011 US Open champion.
Certainly on Monday night’s evidence, when Stosur fought for one hour and 43 minutes but couldn’t push the match to a third set.
Not since 2012 has Stosur exited the Melbourne tournament without winning a set.
Stosur was seeded 25th and fully expected to account for Pliskova.
Pliskova is ranked No.114 in the world and has played second fiddle to twin sister and world No.12 Karolina throughout her time on the WTA circuit.
“It was the biggest match of my career,” Pliskova said, admitting she was bothered by a leg injury in the contest.
Stosur started her 14th Australian Open as the top-ranked local hope in the women’s draw, as has been the case so many times.
Unfortunately for the Queenslander it wasn’t the only repetitive element of her campaign.
Stosur broke back twice in the second set, most notably when Pliskova was serving for the match at 5-4.
The comeback continued.
Stosur had two set points but failed to convert either, with Pliskova holding serve to push the set to a tiebreaker.
Pliskova took control of the contest thanks to her powerful serve and fittingly it was the 23-year-old’s 10th ace that finished the match.
Pliskova smacked Stosur in the face with her serve and sent down two aces in the tiebreak.