Australian tennis teens Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis have continued their seamless transition to the senior ranks, advancing to the second round of the Australian Open.
Great mates off court, the pair played off in the final of the Australian Open juniors last year when Kyrgios triumphed.
The Canberra 18-year-old was first into round two, putting experienced German Benjamin Becker to the sword.
After receiving treatment for an ongoing shoulder problem in the fourth set, Kyrgios came from a break down to win 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 7-6 (7-2) and set up a second-round clash with Frenchman Benoit Paire, the No.27 seed.
South Australian Kokkinakis, 17, showed he was also up to task in his grand slam debut as he overcame leg cramps to oust world No.73 Dutchman Igor Sijsling 7-6 (7-4) 0-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.
He will next face world No.1 Rafael Nadal, who advanced in controversial circumstances after his opponent – Australia’s Bernard Tomic – withdrew through injury at the end of the first set.
Kyrgios was surprised and thrilled in equal measures to learn he had dominated the winners’ count 71-38 against Becker, the man who ended Andre Agassi’s celebrated career in the third round of the 2006 US Open.
“My game revolves around being aggressive,” said Kyrgios, who cheered Kokkinakis from the stands.
“He’s a really solid player and I knew I was going to have to go through him a bit.
“I didn’t know those stats at all but that’s an incredible number of winners.”
Victorian Olivia Rogowska also joined the pair on the winners’ list, tasting success at Melbourne Park for only the second time in six attempts with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Colombia’s Mariana Duque-Marino.
“The conditions were really tough, so just going out there my plan was to stay immensely calm,” said Rogowska, the world No.169.
“I’m really happy with how my nerves held out until the end.”
Luckless Marinko Matosevic extended his winless run at grand slam level to 12 matches with a heartbreaking loss to Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
Matosevic, 28, lost 6-3 5-7 6-2 4-6 6-2 in a first-round clash lasting three hours and 41 minutes and is now winless in a dozen singles matches in majors dating back to the 2010 Australian Open.
Fellow Australian Storm Sanders also let a golden winning opportunity slip on her grand slam debut, losing 4-6 6-1 6-4 to Italian Camila Giorgi.
Sanders, 19, led 4-2 in the deciding set before Giorgi stepped up to claim the last four games.
Australian James Duckworth went down 6-4 6-4 6-2 to 17-time major winner Roger Federer.
HOW THE AUSTRALIANS FARED
Women’s singles, round 1:
Storm Sanders lost to Camila Giorgi (Ita) 4-6 6-1 6-4
Olivia Rogowska bt Mariana Duque-Marino (Col) 6-3 6-3
Men’s singles, round 1:
James Duckworth lost to 6-Roger Federer (Sui) 6-4 6-4 6-2
Lleyton Hewitt lost to 24-Andreas Seppi (Ita) 7-6(7-4) 6-3 5-7 5-7 7-5
Marinko Matosevic lost to 16-Kei Nishikori (Jpn) 6-3 5-7 6-2 4-6 6-2
Nick Kyrgios bt Benjamin Becker (Ger) 6-3 6-7(5-7) 6-2 7-6(7-2)
Thanasi Kokkinakis bt Igor Sijsling (Ned) 7-6 (7-4) 0-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.
Bernard Tomic lost to 1-Rafael Nadal (Esp) 6-4 -retired
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