Nick Kyrgios brushed off the home-crowd hope pressure by powering his way to an impressive Australian Open first round win on Tuesday.
Kyrgios went into the tournament as the top-ranked Australian after Alex De Minaur was forced to withdraw with injury, but he showed little signs of struggling with the expectation.
The 24-year-old’s stock is high at the moment thanks to his efforts in leading tennis’ response to the wildfire crisis and he kept his focus on court in a 6-2 7-6 (3) 7-6 (1) victory over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.
He was also was left speechless when John McEnroe used the on-court interview to pledge to donate 1,000 Australian dollars (approximately £525) to the bushfires relief effort for every set Kyrgios wins this fortnight.
“It was awesome,” said the 23rd seed. “Obviously I felt like he wanted to help. I’m sure a lot of people appreciate that.
“I’m just playing for a lot more than myself. There’s not necessarily added pressure. I feel like I’m playing for a lot of people.”
Kyrgios enhanced his ‘man of the people’ image before hand by requesting to play on a public court Melbourne Arena rather than the showcourts. It is a decision he seemed very happy with afterwards.
“This is probably my favourite court in the world, I always request to play here early on,” Kyrgios explained. “You guys are the best, I feel the support.
“I was really excited to get out here. It has been a really emotional couple of months for all of us. I was really excited.
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