Nick Kyrgios has kickstarted his clay court campaign with an impressive three-set win over world number 14 Daniil Medvedev at the Rome Masters.
- Nick Kyrgios hasn’t been doing so well on clay this season, but he remedied that in the first round of the Rome Masters
- Kyrgios beat world number 14 Daniil Medvedev in three sets, but his confident shot-making stood out
- Starting with an underarm serve on the opening point, Kyrgios threw in drop shots and tweeners in his 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win
Bounced out of Madrid in a first-round loss last week, Kyrgios looked up against it for more significant time on the red dirt before the French Open later this month when he was drawn to play the in-form Russian.
But the mercurial Australian showed moments of genius in a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over Medvedev who already has a clay court final and semi-final appearance to his name this season.
More underarm serves and a liberal dosing of drop shots were the hallmarks of an impressive first set by the world number 36, and Medvedev was clearly struggling with his opponent’s tactics.
“I was trying to throw him off his game because I knew he loves rhythm. He’s a great player,” Kyrgios said.
“Today was a lot of fun. I thought the crowd was a lot of fun. It’s very important to go out there and put on a bit of a show.”
Kyrgios’ penchant for throwing in underarm serves has caused controversy, even though it is perfectly legal. Against Medvedev he showed no concern at all, using the tactic on the opening point of the match — and winning the point in the process.
It plays into other criticisms from fellow players, such as Rafael Nadal’s outburst earlier this year when he said Kyrgios “lacks respect” for others and for the game.
Kyrgios’ performance against Medvedev had it all, including one point where the ball sat up for Medvedev to drill a winner, and Kyrgios turned around on the clay and bent over to show his backside to the Russian.
After receiving treatment on his back after the first set, Medvedev lifted and ultimately secured a break in the eighth game of the second following a loose few points from Kyrgios.
But Kyrgios quickly gained the ascendancy in the decider, breaking the Russian in his first service game.
Medvedev had two break points to get the match back on serve in the seventh game but was unable to capitalise.
Kyrgios then spectacularly won the contest with four consecutive aces.
Medvedev isn’t Kyrgios’ biggest fan — but the Russian star could not beat the Australian in Rome. (AP: Andrew Medichini)
While both players received code violations there appeared to be no particular beef between the pair, despite a recent interview where Medvedev appeared to be a little critical of the Australian.
Medvedev had been reported by Eurosport as saying: “When he [Kyrgios] starts playing with worse opponents he starts showing knee pain.
“Because he does not want to show that, for him it’s difficult to play with that opponent.
“I think I do not have his attitude, but if I will have it, people will hate me more than Kyrgios.”
Kyrgios will play Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud in the second round, the Canberran looking for more ranking points to gain a top 32 seeding for Roland Garros.
A possible round 16 clash looms against seventh seed Juan Martin del Potro.
Elsewhere in the tournament, world number five Alexander Zverev continued his poor recent form as he crashed out after a 7-5, 7-5 defeat by home favourite Matteo Berrettini.
David Goffin produced two blistering sets to fight back and beat Stanislav Wawrinka 4-6, 6-0, 6-2.