Kyrgios to launch Open campaign

Nick Kyrgios launches his French Open campaign on Monday confident he has the weapons to wreak more grand slam havoc at Roland Garros.

Kyrgios is among 10 Australians in action on a bumper day two of action, with fellow seeds Bernard Tomic and former finalist Samantha Stosur also getting their championships underway.

A quarter-finalist at Wimbledon and the Australian Open, Kyrgios believes he has the claycourt tools to match his run on the grass of Wimbledon and cement of Melbourne Park.

Victory over Roger Federer in Madrid this month has only added to the 20-year-old’s optimism.

“The slower sort of surface is good,” Kyrgios said ahead of a first-round meeting with Uzbeki Denis Istomin in the third match of the day scheduled for Court 3.

“It gives me time to set up on my forehand, my backhand is probably my favourite stroke where I can construct points with and I believe that I can serve at a high level on any surface.

“So it’s good. I’m (also) trusting my movement a lot more; I’m moving well and obviously playing Federer a couple of weeks ago and having success there was massive.

“I’ve drawn a lot of confidence from that on clay.”

Kyrgios arrived at Roland Garros three days after withdrawing from the Nice Open with elbow soreness.

But the moment he walked into the gates fond memories of his breakthrough first grand slam win against Radek Stepanek came flooding back.

“Every time I come here, I think of that match. It sort of kick-started my career,” said the tournament’s 30th seed.

“That’s something I won’t ever forget, playing Stepanek and winning 7-6 7-6 7-6 was a good memory.”

But the 20-year-old refuses to live in the past and is refusing to take Istomin lightly despite thumping him in Davis Cup last year.

“I’m confident but I know he can do damage anywhere he plays,” Kyrgios said.

“He’s got a big game and he plays aggressive and I played him on grass, which is completely different to clay.

“I know what I’ve got to do, but he’ll also have his tactics. I’m just going to go out there, have fun and give my best.”

Australia lost its first player on Sunday when Olivia Rogowska was unable to parlay her impressive qualifying form into a first-round win against Magdalena Rybarikova, the 23-year-old going down 0-6 7-5 6-2 to the higher-ranked Slovakian.

But with 11 remaining, Australia still has its strongest singles contingent in Paris in 16 years.

Stosur, on a high after winning the Strasbourg International lead-up event on Saturday, has a danger match first up against rising American Madison Brengle, who narrowly missed a seeding.

Casey Dellacqua plays Ajla Tomljanovic in an all-Australian affair, Daria Gavrilova plays Swede Johanna Larsson and Jarmila Gajdosova meets French wildcard Amandine Hesse.

Tomic, seeded 27th but coming into the tournament under the weather and with modest expectations, plays Luca Vanni, an Italian qualifier who edged him in a third-set tiebreaker in Madrid.

Sam Groth plays Uruguay’s 21st seed Pablo Cuevas, teenage star Thanasi Kokkinakis is up against Georgian qualifier Nikoloz Basilashvili on debut and Marinko Matosevic takes on Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci.


Women’s singles, first round

26-Samantha Stosur v Madison Brengle (USA)

Casey Dellacqua v Ajla Tomljanovic

Daria Gavrilova v Johanna Larsson (SWE)

Jarmila Gajdosova v Amandine Hesse (FRA)

Men’s singles, first round

27-Bernard Tomic v Luca Vanni (ITA)

30-Nick Kyrgios v Denis Istomin (UZB)

Sam Groth v 21-Pablo Cuevas (URU)

Thanasi Kokkinakis v Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO)

Marinko Matosevic v Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)

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