Nick Kyrgios spared Australia’s blushes in a day of injury and implosion for his countrymen at the Japan Open.
World No.34 Kyrgios shrugged off the disappointment of losing the first set to register a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 6-3 opening round win over Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
The Canberran made heavy work of the clash with the world No.71, failing to capitalise on multiple set points in the opening set and handing back a break in the decider before securing the win.
He’ll now play another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut, who ensured Kyrgios got to avoid another clash with his recent nemesis Richard Gasquet after an upset 6-4 6-1 win over the Frenchman.
Kyrgios at least finished the day on a happier note than three of his contemporaries.
Bernard Tomic and Sam Groth both succumbed to injury and withdrew midway through their opening-round matches.
Tomic pulled out citing illness when trailing American Steve Johnson 6-3 2-1 although the Australian No.1 hopes to recover in time to participate in next week’s World Tour Masters tournament in Shanghai.
Groth withdrew from his first-round match against Jeremy Chardy when the Frenchman was leading 6-3 2-0.
The big-serving New South Welshman aggravated an ankle injury and is now set to take the next few weeks off.
Meanwhile Matthew Ebden missed a golden opportunity to progress to the second round when he served for the match in the second set against American Austin Krajicek.
Ebden ultimately succumbed 5-7 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) in a clash of two qualifiers.
Elsewhere top seed and defending champion Stan Wawrinka muscled into the second round with a bludgeoning 7-5 6-3 victory over Czech Radek Stepanek.
French Open champion Wawrinka produced a dazzling performance in the Tokyo sunshine, the Swiss unleashing a series of jaw-dropping backhands that left his opponent shaking his head in disbelief.
“After last year I’m just happy to play well and get through the match,” said Wawrinka, who was eliminated by Japan’s Tatsuma Ito in the first round last year in a stunning upset and faces the same player in his next match.
“(Ito) is tough to play against, but obviously I’ll try to play better than I did last year and hopefully continue to play well all week,” added Wawrinka, chasing a fourth title of the year and the 11th of his career.
Wawrinka’s quest for a first Tokyo title promises to be a difficult one, with defending champion Kei Nishikori arguably a slight favourite to capture his third Japan Open on a court he has owned in recent years.
In other matches, Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller upset fifth seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-2 6-3 while Cyprus’s former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis beat Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-5 6-1.
Gilles Simon and Benoit Paire were amongst the other winners.