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Nick at Night: Kyrgios Leads Australian Men’s Charge Into Second Round of Aussie Open

By Ricky Dimon

Nick Kyrgios got exactly what he wanted: night-session treatment on his favorite court, Melbourne Arena.

And he gave the fans exactly what he wanted: entertainment…and a win.

Wrapping up first-round action at the Australian Open on Tuesday, Kyrgios kicked off his campaign with a 6-2, 7-6(3), 7-6(1) victory over Lorenzo Sonego. The 24-year-old Aussie fired 14 aces and a whole host of his usual hotdog shots while advancing in two hours and 13 minutes.

“I was really excited to get out here,” Kyrgios assured. “I wanted to put on a good performance. I knew it was going to be tough, because I’d played [Sonego] once before (at the 2019 Cincinnati Masters). This is one of my favorite courts in the world and I feel super comfortable here. I had great support from fans. The ATP Cup was great preparation.”

At the ATP Cup, Kyrgios and the rest of the host nation made a dramatic run to the semifinals before losing to reigning Davis Cup champion Spain and Rafael Nadal.

It may take a similar kind of beast to stop the Aussie men in Melbourne.

Joining Kyrgios in the second round are countrymen John Millman, Jordan Thompson, Alexei Popyrin, Marc Polmans, and Alex Bolt. Millman knocked off Auckland winner Ugo Humbert, Thompson took care of the talented Alexander Bublik, Popyrin got a retirement from Jo-Wilfried Tsonga while leading two sets to one, and both Polmans and Bolt pulled off upsets in thrilling five-setters.

For Popyrin, it was a victory over one of his idols.

“It was his flair,” the 20-year-old said when asked what grew up loving about Tsonga’s game. “As a kid, everybody loves flair. It was his forehand, his serve, the way he acted on court. He was an entertainer; he still is an entertainer. Just how he played was something that I really loved. Seeing that run he made in the Aussie Open finals (in 2008) was something else. When he made it to the finals, I was jumping around my living room like a crazy kid.”

Now it’s Popyrin–and the rest of the Aussie crew–who has the fans going crazy.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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