Frenchman Richard Gasquet stands between Nick Kyrgios and a potentially spicy showdown with Australian Davis Cup teammate Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Cincinnati Masters.
Kokkinakis fought off a spirited challenge from Italian Fabio Fognini before advancing to the second round on Monday with a 4-6 6-2 6-3 win over Italy’s world No.31.
Kyrgios plays Gasquet on Tuesday, with victory to set up a second-round meeting with Kokkinakis a week after he dragged his friend and former doubles partner into an on-court verbal stoush with French Open champion Stan Wawrinka.
While Kyrgios has been universally condemned – and fined $US10,000 ($A13,560) – for telling Wawrinka “Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend”, Kokkinakis has also suffered.
The chair umpire had to separate Kokkinakis and Ryan Harrison after the American began sledging the South Australian teenager during a weekend qualifying match in Cincinnati.
“I made it pretty clear that he can’t be doing that. If he’s got a problem, he’s got to say it in private,” Kokkinakis told foxsports.com.au.
“The way he went about it definitely wasn’t the right thing.”
Should the former Australian Open and Wimbledon junior doubles winners square off, the match would be a fascinating sequel to last week’s controversy in Montreal.
Kyrgios, who reportedly opted to watch American Jack Sock’s Cincinnati opener rather than Kokkinakis’s on Monday, first must avenge his fourth-round Wimbledon loss to Gasquet.
Fellow Australian Bernard Tomic joined Kokkinakis in reaching the second round with a straight-sets win over Sergiy Stakhovsky.
World No.24 Tomic beat Stakhovsky 6-4 6-3 to set up a meeting with another Ukraine, qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Playing the penultimate tournament of his career, American Mardy Fish upset 20th-ranked Viktor Troicki 6-2 6-2 for his first ATP win since 2013.
“I was a little surprised at my level,” Fish said. “I hadn’t practised a ton or particularly well for a little while. I was struggling with my serve.”
Fish, a wildcard entrant who already announced the US Open will be his last event before retiring, next plays second-ranked Andy Murray.
Unseeded Ivo Karlovic eliminated 10th-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-4 6-7 (7-3) 6-3, while Joao Sousa defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2 6-7 (7-5) 6-2.