TOKYO (AFP) - Nick Kyrgios said he “struggled to breathe” in the Tokyo air Tuesday before finding his feet and crushing Taiwan’s Tseng Chun-hsin 6-3, 6-1 in his first match since the U.S. Open.
Kyrgios dropped just seven points on his own service in his opening match at the Japan Open as he dismantled world number 87 Tseng in 1hr, 6min.
The maverick world number 20 was playing his first match since his “heartbreaking” quarter-final loss to Karen Khachanov at last month’s U.S. Open but he said he made a “solid” return despite a slow start.
“The first couple of games 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 faces a charge of common assault.
The Tokyo crowd cheered Kyrgios’ name and clamored for the signed balls that he hit into the stands after the match.
He put on a show on the court as well, hitting one shot between his legs and bickering with the umpire over line calls.
Kyrgios has posted several pictures of himself sightseeing in Tokyo on social media since he arrived and he said he was “excited” to be playing in Japan.
“To play in front of the crowd is amazing, they’re so respectful and they always love good tennis,” said the 27-year-old.
“The last couple of years, COVID has affected the tournament so it’s just good to have this event back and running again.”