NICK Kyrgios was “surprised” to be cheered by the home crowd as he beat Russian youngster Andrey Rublev 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the Kremlin Cup first round.
The temperamental Australian, seeded fifth in Moscow, fired 24 aces to win his first-ever meeting with the 20-year-old Rubvlev.
“I love to play indoors and we played a lot with Andrey in juniors. He’s going to have a great career,” Kyrgios said.
“I was surprised that the public cheered me here. It’s nice. Normally when I’m not at home I’m not the most loved person but it was nice to hear some cheering. I felt almost at home here.”
The 23-year-old Kyrgios, who has slumped to world No.37 after struggling for form and fitness this year, will meet Mirza Basic in the last 16, after the Bosnian saw off Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.
Reigning champion Damir Dzumhur saw his title defence come to an abrupt halt with a first-round loss to Belarusian qualifier Egor Gerasimov.
The Bosnian, who won both the St Petersburg and Moscow tournaments last year, slumped to a 6-1 6-7 (5-7), 6-2 loss to the world number 217.
Gerasimov will next face charismatic Frenchman Benoit Paire for a place in the last eight.
Paire, who has not reached a quarter-final since February, beat Mischa Zverev 7-6 (8-6), 2-6, 6-1.
“It was a good match. I wasn’t doing well at the beginning but then I got much better,” Paire said.
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