Nick Kyrgios cruises past Tseng Chun-hsin in straight sets to reach last 16

Nick Kyrgios of Australia reacts as he hits a tennis ball to the crowd after winning over Tseng Chun-Hsin of Taiwan during a singles match in the Rakuten Open tennis championships at Ariake Colosseum Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

Tokyo: Nick Kyrgios said he was “struggling to breathe” in the Tokyo air on Tuesday before finding his feet and crushing Taiwan’s Tseng Chun-hsin 6-3, 6-1 in his first match since the US Open .

Kyrgios dropped just seven points on his own serve in his opening match at the Japan Open when he collapsed number 87 Tseng in 1 hour, 6min.

The world number 20 was playing his first match since his “heartbreaking” quarter-final loss to Karen Khachanov at last month’s US Open, but he said he had made a “solid” comeback despite a slow start.

“The first few matches I struggled to breathe, I think just the humidity and getting back into competitive play,” said Kyrgios, whose lawyer appeared for him earlier in the day at a court hearing in Australia, where he is facing a charge of common cause. assault.

“I came out a little bit slow, but I don’t play a lot of games, so it’s hard to just get right back into that competitive flow.

“But as soon as I played that first match, I found my form again and played very well.”

The Tokyo crowd cheered Kyrgios’ name and shouted for the autographed balls he hit in the stands after the match.

He also put on a show on the court, hitting one shot between his legs and arguing with the umpire calls.

Kyrgios has posted several photos of himself visiting Tokyo on social media since arriving and said he was “excited” to play in Japan.

“Playing in front of the crowd is amazing, they are so respectful and they always love good tennis,” says the 27-year-old.

“For the past few years, Covid has affected the tournament, so it’s only good to this event back and again.”

Rude surprise

Earlier in the day, top seed Casper Ruud crashed out in the first round after a 6-3, 6-3 loss to Spain’s Jaume Munar.

The Norwegian lost to Carlos Alcaraz in the final of the US Open last month and since then has barely taken his foot off the gas as he played in the Davis Cup and Laver Cup before heading to last week’s Korea Open.

He finally hit the wall against world No. 58 Munar, breaking his serve twice in the first set and throwing shot after shot into the net throughout the match.

Ruud admitted he tried too hard after his US Open run.

“I maybe pushed a little too much and tried to go for too many tournaments and too many matches in a row, but I really wanted to come to Asia and play these tournaments,” said the world number three.

“Today I could not bring my best level, but it is an experience and a situation from which I will try to learn.”

Australian number six seed Alex de Minaur also made a first round exit earlier in the day when he lost 6-3, 6-2 to South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo.

Croatia’s number nine seed Borna Coric beat Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), while Britain’s number eight seed Dan Evans defeated Moldova’s Radu Albot 6-7 (3 /7), 6-1, 6 beat. -4.

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