• Nick Kyrgios celebrates his victory in the first round of the Australian Open (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Nick Kyrgios’ straight sets win over Lorenzo Sonego in the Australian Open first round was impressive for a range of factors - both on and off the court.
By
Patrick Nugent at Melbourne Park

23 Jan 2020 - 7:24 AM  UPDATED 23 Jan 2020 - 7:24 AM

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The 24-year-old star - now the top ranked Aussie male at this year’s Open after the withdrawal of Alex de Minaur - produced three flawless sets to dispose of the Italian, ranked 53 in the world.

But what was even more impressive, aside from his 6-2, 7-6(3), 7-6(1) victory, was Kyrgios’ attitude throughout the contest.

Not once did his behaviour waver, which has become an all-too-familiar trademark during the Australian’s career.

Over the past few weeks, Kyrgios has produced an incredible effort to bring the tennis world - and plenty of other sporting stars - together to support the bushfire relief cause.

John McEnroe was the latest to get on board, pledging - during the post-match interview with Kyrgios in Melbourne Arena - that he will donate $1,000 for every set the Aussie wins from here on in this tournament.

However, aside from Kyrgios’ tremendous flair and composure displayed throughout his first round win on Tuesday night (AEDT) - and humbleness during the on-court chat with McEnroe - it was a later Instagram post that caught my attention.

“You can rise up from anything,” Kyrgios wrote.

“You can completely recreate yourself. Nothing is permanent.

“You’re not stuck. You have choices. You can think new thoughts.

“You can learn something new. You can create new habits.

“All that matters is that you decide today and never look back.”

This sums up the 2020 version of Kyrgios, who certainly has Australia and the tennis world behind him following a strong showing at the ATP Cup, Kooyong Classic (LIVE on SBS) and early stages of the Open.

And what does the world number 26 think about this newfound support?

“With everything going on, walking out there (tonight), I was a lot more nervous than I have been in previous matches,” he said.

“Australian Open, I usually feel pretty comfortable. I was definitely really nervous walking out there.

“But, I mean, the crowd was unbelievable. I got comfortable quite early in the match. I played an unbelievable first set, which helped.”

That pressure will only intensify during the Australian Open, given Kyrgios next faces former world No.6 Gilles Simon, before a potential showdown with rival and top-ranked Rafael Nadal in the fourth round.

But one thing’s for sure - the Aussie is fast proving he can deal with this pressure and it’s going to take an almighty performance from anyone to stop Kyrgios, who has become exceptionally driven for a great cause.