Nick Kyrgios has made a winning return to the court, unleashing a serving blitz to power past Sebastian Baez 6-4 6-0 at the Indian Wells Masters in California.
World No.132 Kyrgios, who needed a wildcard to enter, sent down 12 aces to one and landed 90 per cent of his first serves on the way to the easy win.
The victory, which was his first appearance since winning the Australian Open men’s doubles title alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis in January, set up a round-two clash with Argentina’s world No.34 Federico Delbonis.
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“It was good to be back. I haven’t played in the desert for almost two, three years so just good to be back feeling healthy,” Kyrgios said.
“I love this place. It’s relaxing, it’s very different to every other event and just to be playing good tennis – that guy’s 60 in the world but I know what I’m capable of.
“I know if I play my game, serve well, I’ve had success here and in Miami. So I feel good and I feel confident.”
Fellow Australian Alexei Popyrin could only convert one of his 14 break-point chances on the way to a disappointing 6-3 7-5 loss to world No.158 Tomas Machac.
A win would have earned Popyrin a crack at newly-crowned world No.1 Daniil Medvedev in the second round, but instead he’s been left to rue the one that got away.
Kyrgios and Delbonis have only faced off once before, an epic rncounter at Melbourne Park in 2015.
“I played him in the Australian Open one year and I won in five sets, so he’s tough,” Kyrgios said.
“He’s a tough left-lander and he plays well in these conditions. He’s had a couple of good wins here so he’s a great competitor too.”
Kyrgios teamed with Kokkinakis at the Australian Open in what became a wild ride on the way to taking home the doubles title.
A few weeks later, a candid Kyrgios opened up about his past battles with self harm and suicidal thoughts.
He also revealed he abused alcohol and drugs.
But re-energised, the 26-year-old will again team up with Kokkinakis at Indian Wells.
Last week, Australia’s Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt revealed Kyrgios opted to attend a business meeting in the United States rather than playing in Australia’s tie against Hungary.
Australia ended up winning the tie 3-2.to book a spot in the Davis Cup’s group stages in September.
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