It was far from his most convincing performance of late, but Nick Kyrgios tapped into a little bit of magic to keep his promising grasscourt form intact ahead of Wimbledon.
Kyrgios made life a little difficult for himself in the first round of the Mallorca Open against Serbia’s Laslo Djere, dropping the first set but eventually prevailing 5-7, 7-6, 7-6.
OUCH: Ajla Tomljanovic in brutal moment after rival’s ‘disgraceful’ act
NOT HAPPY: Novak Djokovic fans take action over looming ban
The latest win moved Kyrgios to seven wins from his last nine matches on grass, a promising sign ahead of a highly anticipated tilt at Wimbledon.
The full array of Kyrgios’ shot-making was on show against the World No.55, including what could only be described as a lunging drop shot the 27-year-old picked up on the half-volley.
Djere could only gesture slightly in disbelief after Kyrgios managed to track down his return down the line and whip it back over the net.
“That’s behind him!” the commentator exclaimed after viewing the replay.
“How on earth…that’s what the people came to see.”
Kyrgios will next face Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the next round at Mallorca.
While his effort against Djere looked to be something of an uphill battle, Kyrgios crucially dominated both tiebreakers after struggling with them in his loss to big serving Hubert Hurkacz at Halle last week.
“I’ve played good tie-breaks in my career and I know that if I’m serving well I’ve got a good chance,” Kyrgios told the ATP website.
“(Djere) was serving really, really well today and he played the big points really well. I’m just happy to win.”
Kyrgios also looked ahead to facing close friend on tour Bautista Agut in the next round.
“Another hard one,” Kyrgios noted. “He’s a great player and he’s a great guy as well. He’s one of my mates on tour and he’s very nice to me.”
Aussie tennis stars firing in build up to Wimbledon
Alex de Minaur and John Millman, Australia’s No.1 and No.7 respectively, have each made flying starts to their final pre-Wimbledon grasscourt warm-up.
De Minaur, the defending champion at the tournament on England’s south coast, beat Chile’s Cristian Garin 6-3 6-3 in 82 minutes on Monday.
The 23-year-old dropped just one set en route to the crown at the ATP 250 event last season and again looked at home on the grass. Seeded sixth he broke Garin four times.
He now faces either Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego, in a rematch of last season’s final, or fellow Aussie James Duckworth. That pair play on Tuesday after Duckworth came through qualifying.
Millman, who also came through qualifying, surprised Sebastian Korda 6-3 7-6 (7-5), reversing the result when they met on clay at Roland Garros last month.
The Queenslander, 33 and ranked 86 in the world, secured victory in 100 minutes against an opponent 40 places higher and 12 years younger.
Korda withdrew from Wimbledon after the defeat, the American saying on Twitter he was suffering with “terrible shin splints and beaten up feet” and needed a rest.
Millman will now meet Alexander Bublik who rallied from the brink of defeat to beat American Frances Tiafoe 5-7 7-6 (7-4) 6-0.
There were also victories for Maxime Cressy over fellow American Reilly Opelka 6-3 6-1 and their compatriot Brandon Nakashima who beat Briton Jay Clarke 6-1 6-3.
In Mallorca Ilya Ivashka earned a meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas with a comfortable 6-4 6-1 victory over Emil Ruusuvuori while Roberto Bautista Agut overcame Taro Daniel 6-4 7-6 (7-4).
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.