TOKYO – Former champion Nick Kyrgios flickered into life for just long enough to dispatch 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's fellow Australian Matthew Ebden, winning in three sets to avoid the same fate as top seed Marin Cilic who flopped at the first hurdle in Tokyo a day earlier.
Kyrgios appeared a little distracted at times but the controversial Aussie 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.
Kyrgios has been fined for "tanking" matches in Shanghai the past two years but captured one of his four career titles in Tokyo two years ago, beating Belgium's David Goffin in the final.
He faces eighth seed Richard Gasquet for a place in the quarter-finals.
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.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)