It wasn’t state versus state, but it was team versus team for sure, as Nick Kyrgios easily eliminated best pal, fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, with a straight set win in the first round of the US Open.
Kyrgios put the friendship aside to go into the second round with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) in straight sets and beat his doubles partner, who won the Australian Open.
The former bad boy, who was in the form of his life, broke Kokkinakis in each of the first two sets and then clinched victory in a tiebreaker to brag at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday afternoon (AEST).
Thanasi Kokkinakis (left) and Nick Kyrgios (right) shake hands after the latter won his first-round match at the US Open
The couple, pictured at the juniors’ Wimbledon doubles tournament in 2013, have been close friends for many years
Instead of celebrating the win, Kyrgios said he just hopes to “never” play his best mate again.
“I thought I played really well in the first couple of sets and took control of the match early. To be honest, when we both saw the draw, it was a nightmare,” he said on the pitch after his victory.
“We never want to play each other and he probably beats 80 per cent of the draw tonight, he played really well.
“I can’t wait to get out there and play doubles with him on the right side of the net. Hopefully we’ll never play each other again. We’re going to close this,’ said Kyrgios.
Nick Kyrgios celebrates his victory over compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis in the first round of the US Open
Kyrgios was open before the game that he wasn’t looking forward to facing Kokkinakis and true to his word, there was no theatrics of the combustible talent – just the occasional laugh between the pair.
That being said, there were certainly no freebies from a focused Kyrgios, aside from perhaps a loose serve under the arms on 40-love midway through the opening movement; that Kokkinakis has chosen a winner.
huh? Thanasi Kokkinakis was so hungry during his duel against Nick Kyrgios that he seemed to eat the ball
Kyrgios now meets Benjamin Bonzi in the second round and will not underestimate the Frenchman.
“Very solid player who’s had a great season,” said the Australian of his next opponent.
“I’m not even going to think about it, I’m going to go home, eat something and just relax.”
Kyrgios’ otherwise clinical win was the 17th of his last 20 games as the world No. 25 – who would be ranked higher if Wimbledon were ranked – looks to cap his best year of the season on tour with a landmark Grand Slam title.
Nick Kyrgios (right) and Thanasi Kokkinakis provided top-notch entertainment as they won the Australian Open doubles title in January
The talented duo pose with the Grand Slam trophy winning the final
A smooth victory for Kyrgios after Serena Williams’ dramatic triumph in the previous game rounded off a fine opening day for Australia; Alex de Minaur, Ajla Tomljanovic and Jordan Thompson also advance.
Kokkinakis, John Millman – in five grueling sets in the scorching heat – and Daria Saville were the only casualties.
However, Kyrgios was the most impressive of the four winners.
The Wimbledon finalist was untouchable on serve, not offering a single break point all game and giving Kokkinakis little insight into his deadly performance.
Nick Kyrgios and his girlfriend Costeen Hatzi enjoy sightseeing
Not only was Kyrgios able to successfully overcome a major hurdle over his awesome pal, but he also eliminated two more menaces from his section of the draw.
His predicted second-round opponent Ugo Humbert, the heavy-hitting southpaw who took Kyrgios to five sets in a Wimbledon thriller last year, made a surprise crash against fellow countryman Benjamin Bonzi.
And if he beats Bonzi on Wednesday, Kyrgios will not meet 16th seed Roberto Bautista Agut as expected in the third round after the Spaniard slipped against American wildcard JJ Wolf.
Bautista Agut slammed Kyrgios for losing just seven games in New York last year but his passing leaves the Canberran a set-free path to a possible round of 16 showdown with world No. 1 and defending champion Daniil Medvedev.
How the Aussies fared in the first round of the US Open
Alex de Minaur (18) defeated Filip Krajinovic (Serbia) 7-5, 6-2, 6-3
Nick Kyrgios (23) defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
Jordan Thompson defeated Lorenzo Sonego (Italy) 2-6, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4
John Millman lost to Emilio Nava (USA) 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 1-6, 6-1
Ajla Tomljanovic defeated Karolina Muchova (Czechoslovakia) 6-3, 7-6 (7-5)
Daria Saville lost to Elena-Gabriela Ruse (Romania) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/tennis/article-11159493/Australian-tennis-star-Nick-Kyrgios-describes-Open-win-Thanasi-Kokkinakis-nightmare.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios describes US Open win over Thanasi Kokkinakis as a “nightmare”.