Nick Kyrgios leaves at the end of an Australian Open practice session at Melbourne Park. Picture: Scott Barbour/AAP
Nick Kyrgios leaves at the end of an Australian Open practice session at Melbourne Park. Picture: Scott Barbour/AAP

Kyrgios rehabilitation regime to undergo test at Open today

THE Nick Kyrgios rehabilitation regime will undergo its first big test of the summer on Tuesday, when the mercurial star will get his Melbourne Park campaign under way along with a dozen other Australians.

Getting warm support following his fundraising efforts for the Australian bushfires, Kyrgios nonetheless finds himself walking a tightrope with a 16-week suspended ban hanging over his head.

While he acquitted himself well at the ATP Cup, he admitted being far more relaxed in the team environment.

The season-opening Grand Slam and best-of-five set matches are expected to be much more of a physical and mental challenge for him.

He says Italian opponent Lorenzo Sonego will also present his share of problems.

"Sonego is a tough competitor," Kyrgios said.

"I played him in Cincinnati last year. It was a tough match. Very capable player. Big serve. Loves to hit his forehand."

On Monday, rain restricted all but the earliest of matches to the three covered courts, but after some morning showers things are expected to clear on Tuesday and a jam-packed schedule awaits.

Alexei Popyrin has an intriguing match against 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The world No.96 will be looking to continue on from his admirable Grand Slam efforts last year, when he won through every first-round match.

At the Australian Open he took out two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem.

John Millman faces a tough clash against 21 year-old Frenchman Ugo Humbert, who is in excellent touch after taking out last week's Auckland International.

Jordan Thompson and Ajla Tomljanovic head the rest of the local hopes.

Of the internationals, a slew of tournament fancies are scheduled to get their campaigns under way.

World No.1 Rafael Nadal looks to have the most straightforward of matches, the Spaniard up against 73rd-ranked Bolivian Hugo Dellien.

Elsewhere things get a little more interesting.

Daniil Medvedev is expected to encounter some opposition from 2019 quarter- finalist Frances Tiafoe, and Simona Halep will have to counter the heavy hitting of Jennifer Brady.

And Alexander Zverev has a tought first-up clash with Marco Cecchinato.

Despite being lauded as one of the "next-gen" talents likely to breakthrough for a grand slam, Zverev hasn't always lived up to expectations, particularly at major level.

The German has yet to progress past the last eight at a Slam while his much more unheralded opponent made the semi-finals of the French Open in 2018.


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