Nick Kyrgios has produced a typically lively display on return from a bout of COVID-19 to set up a blockbuster Australian Open second-round clash with tournament favourite Daniil Medvedev.
Less than a fortnight after testing positive to the virus, Kyrgios put some spark into a previously subdued Melbourne Park with a 6-4 6-4 6-3 first-round win over British qualifier Liam Broady on Tuesday night.
The 26-year-old, wearing a red basketball-style singlet and trademark jewellery, lived up to his billing as the game's greatest showman as he broke Broady's serve in the opening game and whipped the John Cain Arena crowd into a frenzy.
He then blasted a 220km/h ace and followed it up with a cheeky underhand serve through his legs as he held to love to set the tone for the match.
Kyrgios sent down six aces in his first two service games and finished with 21 for the match, while landing 81 per cent of first serves in a dominant display.
During the second set, Kyrgios took a point when he surprised Broady with a mid-rally shot between his legs and then ripped a curling forehand down the line.
It was one of 41 winners for Kyrgios, ranked 115 in the world, as he delighted his raucous fans, later describing his favourite arena as a "zoo".
Kyrgios looked calm and comfortable for the most part, without any of the major on-court drama that has hindered him throughout his career.
The impressive display came about a week after Kyrgios was bedridden with COVID-19 and just days after his isolation period ended.
"I had some doubts, a lot of messages (asking) if I was going to play, but I just couldn't ask for a better team," Kyrgios said.
"The last week has been tough, I did isolation, my girlfriend was there and I was lucky enough to have a tennis court just to hit some serves.
"Obviously I served f***ing well today."
It was Kyrgios' first match since September and the result snapped a five-match losing streak that dated to July.
Kyrgios will now meet second seed Medvedev, who defaulted into favouritism after Novak Djokovic's extraordinary exit.
World No.2 Medvedev was runner-up to Djokovic at Melbourne Park last year before claiming his maiden major title by toppling the Serbian superstar at the US Open.
The Russian lost to Kyrgios in their two previous meetings - both in 2019.
"He's an amazing player," Kyrgios said.
"I knew that he was going to do some special things in this sport and he's won a grand slam.
"I know that I'm going to have to play some pretty good tennis ... and we'll see what happens."
Australian Associated Press
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