Former champion Nick Kyrgios made a successful return to the Truist Atlanta Open on Tuesday night after fighting past Kevin Anderson 7-6(4), 6-3 to move into the second round.

Kyrgios didn’t face a break point as he aced his way through a tense meeting between two big servers. He won 86 per cent (36/42) of points behind his first serve, and fired 15 aces en route to victory. The Aussie will next face third seed Cameron Norrie, who arrives in Atlanta after claiming his first ATP Tour title in Los Cabos.

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“Kevin is no easy opponent, he’s a finalist at Grand Slams and he knows how to win matches,” Kyrgios said in an on-court interview. “His serve is one of the best in the world, so I knew today was going to be incredibly tough. I haven’t played too many matches, but I was serving well and I just love playing here in Atlanta.”  

The only break of serve came late in the match, as Kyrgios pounced on a loose Anderson service game at 4-4. The South African gave Kyrgios too many looks at second serves, and the 2016 champion gleefully teed off to claim the decisive break.  

At match point, Kyrgios walked over to a fan in the crowd and, after a brief conversation, returned to the baseline. He fired a big first serve out wide that went unreturned, sealing the victory after an hour and 23 minutes.

“It’s a routine that I’ve been doing for the last few years, just trying to get the fans involved,” Kyrgios explained. “I saw that he had an ‘NK Nation’ hat on, and I said, ‘Where do you want me to serve?’ He just said, ‘Just go big, wide.’ So there you go.”

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Brandon Nakashima also claimed a late win on Tuesday, needing two hours 25 minutes to takedown local wild card Trent Bryde 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-4. The 19-year-old American, who posted his first tour-level final appearance in Los Cabos, cruised through the opening set but found himself having to fight back as the University of Georgia student raised his level. 

Nakashima held his nerve against Bryde as well as the vocal crowd – including the university’s band – were firmly supporting the home favourite. The 19-year-old fired 10 aces and broke serve four times to set up a second-round meeting with top seed Milos Raonic

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