Australia’s 14th seed and No.1 title hope ignored lingering knee pain to record a comprehensive 6-1 6-2 6-2 victory over Gastao Elias at Hisense Arena.
Now he believes he can prove Federer wrong after the Swiss great questioned whether the temperamental talent was ready to string seven best-of-five-set wins together on one of the sport’s biggest stages.
“Doesn’t bother me at all. I know he’s the greatest of all time,” Kyrgios said.
“I know I just want to do my own thing. I played him once, I beat him once.
“If I didn’t think I’d win it, why would I play? I think I can win it. I’ve beaten pretty much everyone in the draw before. So I think so.”
Kyrgios’s biggest concern last night wasn’t a knee injury he carried into the season-opening grand slam but a recurrence of nose bleeds that required medical time-out early in the second set.
He winced in pain after receiving treatment from the tournament trainer but showed no ill-effects as he brushed past Portugal’s world No.81 for the loss of only five games.
“They put some wood in there,” Kyrgios said.
“I’ve always had a problem with blood noses. I’ve got bad sinuses, so I get that a lot.
“I don’t know what it is but it makes me sneeze. It’s okay – it helps and it stops the bleeding.”
Nose bleeds aside, Kyrgios revelled in his return to Melbourne Park’s party court.
He took the opening set in just 19 minutes, was up two sets in barely half an hour and wrapped up the match like a man trying make a nine o’clock flick.
“The crowd was awesome today and that’s why I request this court, cause it’s my favourite court. I love getting here,” Kyrgios said.
The rapid-fire win was the perfect start for Kyrgios, the 2013 Open boys’ champion, 2015 men’s quarter-finalist and bonafide title contender in 2017.
“Just the way I got through the match pretty fast, I think I reserved a lot of energy,” Kyrgios said.
“I can feel it (the knee), I’ve had great treatment for it with a great team that’s been helping me manage it.
“I’ve done everything I can and I played all right tonight so hopefully we can keep that going.”
Next up for Kyrgios on Wednesday is Andreas Seppi, the Italian he beat at the same stage two years ago en route to the last 16.
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