Nick Kyrgios was at his crowd-pleasing best as he set up an Australian Open showdown with Russia's Daniil Medvedev
Nick Kyrgios pulled out his full array of tricks as the Australian ace breezed past Liam Broady in their first-round meeting in Melbourne.
After a positive Covid test had thrown his participation at the Australian Open into doubt, Kyrgios showed no ill-effects as he steamrollered British qualifier Broady in straight sets, 6-4 6-4 6-3, in a typically entertaining match at John Cain Arena.
Having broken Broady in the first game of the match, Kyrgios resorted to his crowd-friendly antics as early as the next game when he followed a 220kph serve with a ridiculous underarm tweener serve which commentators said was an entirely novel approach.
It wasn't the last of the unorthodox play that an enthralled crowd was to see from Kyrgios, as he played another successful tweener during a second-set rally.
A behind-the-back serve didn't go quite as well for the 26-year-old Aussie, while Broady also cottoned on to Kyrgios' gamesmanship by chasing down another attempted underarm serve.
But Kyrgios was largely in cruise control during a good-natured contest - even though the former Australian Open quarterfinalist did implor the match umpire to warn the crowd at one point with a show of sportsmanship towards opponent Broady.
"Tell them to calm it down when he's serving," Kyrgios was overheard saying.
"I don't mind if they scream and stuff if we're between serves and stuff but if he's serving, tell them to relax.
"I don't care for my serves that much but for him you know. I kind of know I created this s***show anyway but..."
Kyrgios wrapped up the match by breaking Broady as the Brit served to stay in the contest, with the fired-up home hero thumping his chest as he took in the crowd's applause.
Next up for the former world number 13 is a much sterner test in the form of Russia's Daniil Medvedev - now the top-ranked player in Melbourne following the departure of defending champion Novak Djokovic.
US Open champion Medvedev breezed through his first-round meeting with Switzerland's Henri Laaksonen on Tuesday, winning in straight sets in less than two hours on court.
Kyrgios - who has longed faced claims of failing to live up to his prodigious talent - boasts a 2-0 record in head-to-head meetings with Medvedev, although the last time the pair met was in the final of the Citi Open in Washington back in August 2019.
As the drama surrounding Novak Djokovic has played out at this year's Australian Open, Kyrgios has caused surprise by backing the Serb during his ordeal - having previously been one of his most vocal critics.
"Novak has reached out to me personally on IG (Instagram) saying 'Thank you for standing up for me'," Kyrgios revealed on his No Boundaries podcast.
"I was not the one he was expecting to go out in the media and have his back. As a human, he's obviously feeling quite alienated in all of this.
"As a human, that's a dangerous place to be in - when you feel like the world is against you, like you can't do anything right."
Kyrgios criticized Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke over the handling of Djokovic's deportation, saying the Serb had been mistreated.
"Hawke said that he's a threat to our borders. Ah, no he's not. It's like he's a weapon of mass destruction at the moment," Kyrgios said.
"He's here to play tennis, he's not doing anything to anyone."