There were the usual fireworks but Nick Kyrgios has turned relative tennis cleanskin to headline a banner day for Australia at the US Open.
In his first outing since copping a record $US113,000 ($A167,000) fine for his spectacular meltdown in Cincinnati, Kyrgios was mostly on his best behaviour during a typically lively 6-3 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 first-round win over American Steve Johnson on Tuesday night.
He was also in brilliant touch, crunching 24 aces, 20 clean winners – including a series of ferocious forehand slap-shots that left spectators agog – and breaking Johnson four times in the two-hour, two-minute exhibition in Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Kyrgios had too many guns for his 86th-ranked rival, setting up a second-round meeting with French wildcard Antoine Hoang, the world No.104, with minimum fuss by his lowly standards.
The enigmatic star received a code violation from British chair umpire James Keothovong for dropping a succession of F-bombs in the eighth game of the second set.
His antics didn’t impress Johnson, who fumed: “Stop f***ing around and let’s play tennis” as Kyrgios raged at Keothovong for sanctioning him instead of stopping fans from wandering through the stands during his serve.
But that – plus the usual moaning to his box for not offering enough encouragement and for his shorts apparently being too small and briefly complaining of boredom – were nothing compared to branding the umpire a “f***ing tool, a potato” and obliterating two racquets two weeks ago in Cincinnati.
“Couldn’t have picked a more boring sport as a profession. No f***ing joke,” Kyrgios moaned after needing to mimick Roger Federer’s serve midway through the second set to seemingly keep himself entertained.
Fortunately for his supporters, Kyrgios was able to maintain focus long enough to avoid serious strife.
The 28th seed was among five Australians to join day-one winners Ashleigh Barty and Alex de Minaur in the second round.
Jordan Thompson, Alexei Popyrin, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Ajla Tomljanovic also won on Tuesday.
Thompson was superb in clubbing Joao Sousa 6-3 6-2 6-4, Popyrin beat Federico Delbonis 6-1 7-5 7-6 (7-5), Kokkinakis’s 6-3 7-6 (10-8) 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 victory over Ilya Ivashka was his first at a slam since 2015 and Tomljanovic pulled off a remarkable 1-6 7-5 6-1 comeback win over Marie Bouzkova from a set and 5-2 down against the Czech.
But 2018 Open quarter-finalist John Millman was no match for Rafael Nadal, falling 6-3 6-2 6-2 to the 18-times major winner, while Astra Sharma lost 6-3 6-4 to Magda Linette.
HOW THE AUSSIES FARED ON DAY TWO OF THE US OPEN AT FLUSHING MEADOWS:
Men’s singles, first round
28-Nick Kyrgios bt Steve Johnson (USA) 6-3 7-6 (7-1) 6-4
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