Canberra’s Nick Kyrgios is delighted to have opened his 2022 field competition campaign with a win over emerging Czech Jiri Lehecka at the Boss Open in Stuttgart.
In a promising game three weeks before Wimbledon, Kyrgios scored 18 aces and dropped none of his 11 service games in a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 win in 77 minutes.
The game was Kyrgios’ first since losing in the semi-final on clay to Reilly Opelka in Houston in April and his first game on grass since his second-round retirement at Wimbledon last year.
“I feel very comfortable on the grass, of course, but you never know when someone will feel as confident as my opponent today,” he said.
“It’s never easy to get back on grass and I thought I just came back at the right time a few times.
“Of course served really, really well. Just excited to get through. A win is a win. I’m going for it and getting ready for my next game.”
That will be against Lorenzo Musetti or Nikoloz Basilashvili, who will resume on Wednesday with the Georgian leading 7-5 4-2.
“Absolutely a tricky one,” said Kyrgios after improving to 10-4 this year.
“Musetti is clearly a young gun and Basil is someone who can hit the ball really hard.
“So I’ll have to serve really well.”
As Kyrgios marched on, fellow countryman Chris O’Connell crashed, but not before scaring three-time grand slam winner Andy Murray in Stuttgart.
The Sydney qualifier took a shocking 3-0 lead in their first round match on Tuesday, but the former world No. 1 came back to win 6-4 and 6-3.
World No. 1 O’Connell made his way to the quarter-finals in Surbiton, where he lost to compatriot and eventual champion Jordan Thompson.
He also lost to Murray in Dubai in February, but then took the double Wimbledon champion to three sets.
In other matches, Swiss qualifier Dominic Stricker upset American Maxime Cressy 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-2).
The 19-year-old attacker will compete against top division Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Arthur Rinderknech surprised compatriot Ugo Humbert, the eighth seed, 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4.
At s-Hertogenbosch, Australian Matthew Ebden took a 6-2 6-3 victory over Zizou Bergs to advance through qualifying before losing to Tim van Rijyhoven 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (11-9) in just under two hours into the first round.
James Duckworth was 4-6 1-3 behind veteran Frenchman Gilles Simon when rain and then darkness put the game on hold until Wednesday.
There are two seeds out. Number 7 Tommy Paul lost to American compatriot Brandon Nakashima. The Finnish Emil Ruusuvuori defeated the number 6 seeded Dutch local Botic van der Zandschulp.