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Kyrgios advances as divine intervention halts Tomic

Tennis

Rain has stalled Bernard Tomic’s push to join Nick Kyrgios and fellow Australians John Millman, Daria Gavrilova and Samantha Stosur in the second round at Wimbledon.

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Tomic was all locked up at two sets apiece – 4-6 6-3 6-3 3-6 – with Spaniard Fernando Verdasco when the heavens opened and forced the suspension of play at the All England Club overnight.

Kyrgios earlier staked a claim for shot of the tournament in seeing off dogged Czech Radek Stepanek in four sets in a typically eventful start to his campaign.

Australia’s 15th seed produced a spectacular between-the-legs lob winner while preserving his flawless first-round record on London’s SW19 grass courts with a 6-4 6-3 6-7 (9-11) 6-1 triumph.

The combustible youngster also engaged in a running battle with umpire Mohamed Lahyani after receiving a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct after losing the tense third-set tiebreaker.

Kyrgios has history with Lahyani, the pair clashing in several of the 21-year-old’s matches since his emergence on the world stage, and branded the Swede’s sanction for swearing as “rubbish”.

But he regained his composure to book a date on Thursday with dangerous German wildcard Dustin Brown for a place in the last 32 for the third straight year.

Despite his advancing age and wildcard status, 37-year-old Stepanek had shaped as a potential banana skin match-up for Kyrgios.

The former Wimbledon quarter-finalist remains one of the craftiest players on tour and had Andy Murray down two sets to love in the first round of the French Open last month.

And once again Stepanek caused his more-fancied opponent a scare, denying Kyrgios a routine straight-sets win after fighting back from a service break down in the third to briefly unsettle the world No.18.

Lahyani was also in the chair for Kyrgios’s fiery first-round match last year.

In that encounter with Argentine Diego Schwartzmann, Kyrgios threatened a mid-match strike and insisted a rules official come to court two after an unfavourable line call.

Kyrgios looked set to progress on Tuesday incident-free before blowing up at his box and demanding a member of his entourage “get out” after dropping the third set, then being cautioned by Lahyani.

But for the most part, Kyrgios impressed fans with his dazzling shot-making and colourful antics, including his audacious “tweener” lob winner to break Stepanek at the start of the third set.

But the veteran wouldn’t go quietly, keeping Kyrgios on court for two hours and 26 and minutes.

“He knows how to play on grass. He serves well. He volleys well,” he said.

“I couldn’t lapse at all today. Otherwise I would have got beat.

“I’m just really glad I got through.”

Australia’s chief title challenger was also thrilled with the way he managed to hold his nerve after the third-set setback of failing to serve out the contest at 5-4.

“A couple of years ago if I get broken there, I usually lose the match,” he said.

“That’s just maturity.”

Millman rallied to a 7-5 4-6 5-7 6-4 6-3 win over Spaniard Albert Montanes, while Gavrilova produced a spirited comeback to advance 2-6 6-3 6-4 over Wang Qiang.

But Jordan Thompson and Luke Saville crashed out, and qualifier Matt Barton trailed Frenchman Albano Olivetti 6-7 (7-9) 6-6 with the scores tied at 5-5 in the second-set tiebreak when rain stopped play.

-AAP

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