Indian Wells | Kyrgios looks refreshed and eager

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The big names may not be in action for the opening round but the controversial figure of Nick Kyrgios was well able to fill the spotlight and get the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, the first of the Master 1000 events of the season, off to a good start as far as the men’s draw was concerned.

I feel like I’m a bit younger mentally, I feel fresh again, and obviously I’m healthy again with my left knee – I feel like I’m playing some pretty good tennis. Nick Kyrgios

The talented Australian, currently ranked 132 and competing courtesy of a wild card, must be considered one of the most dangerous floaters in the draw.

“I’m just in a different mindset,” the 26-year-old said after his 6-4 6-0 drubbing of Argentina’s Sebastian Baez.

“I feel like I’m a bit younger mentally, I feel fresh again, and obviously I’m healthy again with my left knee – I feel like I’m playing some pretty good tennis.”

He was very much on form for his opening match as he struck 12 aces and saved four break points and delivered 27 winners offset slightly by the 14 unforced errors he made, to cruise past the Argentine world No.60 in one hour and 12-minutes.

Kyrgios has not played a competitive match since the Australian Open last January, dedicating his time to a new girlfriend, but denied his game was rusty when asked, declaring he was fit both mentally and physically and is ready to face another Argentine, Federico Delbonis, the 32nd seed, in round two.

“Honestly, I thought I put in some great performances at the Australian Open, went toe-to-toe with the best player in the world [Daniil Medvedev] and had chances, so honestly I feel good. Now I’m going to enjoy some doubles tomorrow with Thanasi [his partner Kokkinakis], and just vibe, honestly. I’m just excited for dinner tonight and taking nothing for granted.”

Kokkinakis was unsuccessful in his own opener having come through the qualifying competition, losing to Sebastian Korda, of the US and the son of former Australian Open champion Petr Korda, 6-3 6-4.

Americans dominate the draw with 17 participating this year and in addition to Korda, Mackenzie McDonald and Jenson Brooksby have made good starts on behalf of the host nation.

McDonald, ranked 59, scored his third win in the Californian desert with a tight 7-6(11) 7-5 victory over Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics but has still to progress past the second round where this year he will face rising teen talent Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, the 18th seed.

Meanwhile the 21-year-old Brooksby, ranked 43, took out Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1 6-4 striking 20 winners against 14 unforced errors, while his opponent countered with 9 winners against 27 unforced errors. His next opponent is the big hitting Karen Khachanov, the 25th seed, a quarterfinalist in the 2019 edition of the event.

Finally Italy’s Fabio Fognini rallied past Spain’s 34-year-old Pablo Andujar 3-6 6-3 6-3 to set a second-round with Nikoloz Basilashvili, the 18th seed from Georgia while Benjmim Bonzi of France defeated countryman Arthur Rinderknecht, 6-3 7-5 and Filip Krajinovic defeated Dusan Lajovic in an all-Serbian derby, 7-5 4-6 6-1.

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