Kyrgios beats Asian blues to advance in Tokyo

Nick Kyrgios has advanced to the last 16 of the Japan Open. (AFP pic)

TOKYO: Former champion Nick Kyrgios dispatched wildcard Yoshihito Nishioka 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) in the first round of the Japan Open on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson survived a scare against Kyrgios’ fellow Australian Matthew Ebden, winning in three sets to avoid the same fate as top seed Marin Čilić, who flopped at the first hurdle in Tokyo a day earlier.

Kyrgios appeared a little distracted at times but the controversial Australian became a different animal after his Japanese opponent, who won his maiden ATP tour title at last week’s Shenzhen Open, forced a tiebreak in the second set.

Kyrgios unleashed a string of monstrous shots to take the breaker 7-3 for a straight-sets win.

The 23-year-old, who has complained that playing the late-season tour in Asia makes him feel depressed and lonely, fired 20 aces and sealed victory with a flamboyant backhand overhead smash after 73 minutes to book a place in the last 16.

He faces eighth seed Richard Gasquet for a place in the quarterfinals.

Second seed Anderson came through a tough opener 4-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 as the South African goes in search of a fifth career title.

The world number nine, runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon this year, struggled against Ebden until recovering his mojo in the second-set tiebreak, surrendering just one point.

An early break in the decider broke the Australian’s resistance and Anderson closed out the match with a thumping serve down the centre line. He plays American Frances Tiafoe in the last 16.

Earlier, Australia’s Alex de Minaur beat France’s former world number six Gilles Simon 6-7 (1/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-2.