After a dominant run to the quarterfinals in Indian Wells, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios stayed in Miami with another straight-sets victory on Wednesday.
His 7-6(3), 6-3 win did not come easy against the “ridicuously tricky” France’s Adrian Mannarino, but strong serving kept the pressure off and set up power-packed late strikes in both sets.
Kyrgios’ doubles partner, Thanasi Kokkinakis, was also victorious against a veteran French opponent on Wednesday evening. The 25-year-old was a 6-4, 6-2 winner over Richard Gasquet.
“That first-serve percentage was key tonight,” Kyrgios said after the match. “If I miss my first serve, he’s going to be on the front foot from the early jump, and I couldn’t afford to do that tonight against such a tricky opponent.”
Kyrgios posted an 82 per cent win rate on first serve, making 75 per cent of his first deliveries, and did not allow the crafty Frenchman a break point. While Mannarino was strong on serve himself, allowing just one break chance in each set, Kyrgios struck a flurry of return winners at the crucial moments in both sets.
He found a killer angle off the return to secure an early mini-break in the first-set tie-break, surprising even himself with his precision from outside the doubles alley.
On the return at 3-4 in the second, Kyrgios fired back-to-back backhand return winners to turn 30/15 into 30/40. He had to wait a little longer to find a winner on break point, as he showed great patience before a lengthy rally with a looping forehand.
Ace No. 12 ended the match after one hour, 32 minutes, setting up a second-round showdown with Andrey Rublev, already a two-time ATP Tour champion in 2022.
Kyrgios’ doubles partner Kokkinakis had the better of the early exchanges but missed out on his first four break points as Gasquet led, 3-4. But from there, the Aussie won nine of the last 11 games to ease through to the second round, where he’ll face 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.
The World No. 96 improved on his showing at Indian Wells, where he qualified before losing to Sebastian Korda in the opening round. He again qualified in Miami, matching his efficiency at that stage in the desert by doing so with a pair of straight-sets wins.
After winning their maiden Grand Slam doubles title at the Australian Open, Kokkinakis and Kyrgios reached the Round of 16 in Indian Wells and will look to go further as a duo in Miami.