Kyrgios Returns With 'Pretty Good' Indian Wells Victory
"When I play good, I'm pretty good."
That was Nick Kyrgios' cheeky explanation of his dominant 6-4, 6-0 win over the in-form Sebastian Baez, a result that required just one hour and 12 minutes to kickstart his BNP Paribas Open campaign on Thursday night.
Playing in just his second event of 2022, after the Australian Open, the 26-year-old wild card entertained the Indian Wells stadium court crowd with a victory full of flair. The confident Aussie said he's "in a good headspace" following his run to the AO doubles title with Thanasi Kokkinakis, and his singles game is following suit.
The last time Kyrgios took the court for a singles match, he gave Daniil Medvedev a scare across four sets in the Melbourne second round. Returning in another evening session headliner, he was able to hit through the desert wind and dominate his World No. 60 Argentine opponent, who reached his first ATP Tour final on the clay of Santiago last month.
"I'm just going back to basics," Kyrgios said of his mindset, before going on to credit his 21-year-old opponent, who entered the match at a career high in the ATP Rankings. "He's had a great couple of months. He's No. 60 in the world for a reason. He's a young guy, he's got a great future."
Kyrgios pressured Baez from the start, creating break chances in his first three return games before converting on his fifth break point. He saved a pair of break points in the eighth game of the set, then ran away with the match by rattling off the last seven games on the trot. He fired 12 aces in the contest.
The Aussie will face another Argentine in the second round: 32nd seed Federico Delbonis, who reached the semi-finals in Buenos Aires last month.
An Indian Wells quarter-finalist in 2017, Kyrgios is back in the desert for the first time since 2019.
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In other first-round action on Thursday, Benjamin Bonzi came out on top in an all-French clash with Arthur Rinderknech. World No. 62 Bonzi triumphed 6-3, 7-5 to set a second-round meeting with 21st seed Lorenzo Sonego.
There was Serbian success as Laslo Djere and Filip Krajinovic also advanced to the second round. Djere recovered from an early setback to beat South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, while Krajinovic defeated fellow Serbian Dusan Lajovic 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.
American qualifier J.J. Wolf sprung a surprise as he defeated World No. 68 Hugo Gaston 7-5, 6-4. Wolf, who sits at No. 209 in the ATP Rankings, now faces 15th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round.