MELBOURNE, Australia – John McEnroe told Nick Kyrgios he was proud of him and promised to donate $1,000 to the bush fire recovery effort for every set the Aussie player wins at the Australian Open.
Kyrgios beat Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (1) in his first-round match at Melbourne Arena, which was delayed for a couple of minutes in the second set when the lights went out.
Kyrgios kick-started the tennis fundraising campaign that has raised millions of dollars for victims of the devastating wildfires by promising at the ATP Cup to donate $200 for every ace he serves this month. He served 20 aces that night to get the fundraising going.
Against Sonego, he served 14.
McEnroe has been critical of the temperamental Kyrgios at times, but recognized the good deeds in an on-court TV interview.
“I’m proud of you,” McEnroe said near the end over the interview. Kyrgios, who reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2014 and at the Australian Open a year later, thanked the seven-time major winner for the praise.
“I appreciate that,” Kyrgios said. “I’m going to tear up again!”
In another night match, last year’s U.S. Open runner-up, Daniil Medvedev, beat last year’s Australian Open quarterfinalist Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.
“It was a really tough match,” the fourth-seeded Medvedev said. “Up and down from both of us.”