Tomic hits out at ‘struggling’ Kyrgios
Bernard Tomic has had a dig at Nick Kyrgios ahead of their much-hyped first showdown, saying the fellow Australian tennis bad boy 'needs the match' more than he does.
The pair will meet for the first time when they square off in the Kooyong Classic on Wednesday and while Kyrgios had played down any animosity between them earlier on, there might just be some now, with Tomic questioning Kyrgios's mental state.
Tomic said that Kyrgios is "mentally struggling", after Tomic took down American Jack Sock 5-7 6-4 10-6.
"We're good friends and it's good for us to play - he's needing it more than anything because he's a little bit mentally struggling right now," the 26-year-old said.
World No. 85 Tomic said he hoped the hard-hitting Kyrgios, ranked 51, would take the match seriously as they fine-tune their Melbourne Park preparations.
"For practice it's unbelievable and I've got some stuff I've got to work on and tomorrow's my last chance I can do that," Tomic said.
"Am I doing that against Nick, who only just serves? It's tough to do, so hopefully he takes it seriously."
Tomic looked in good touch in his win over Sock, who this time last year was ranked world No. 8 but is now outside the top 100.
It was Tomic's first competitive hitout since September, when he won the Chengdu Open in China.
But Tomic had no such lofty aspirations for the first major of the year. "Probably another third or fourth round like I've done a hundred times," said Tomic when asked of his expectations.
"Sometimes it's good to not be seeded and sometimes it's bad, so we'll see in two days."
"I think we played pretty well today, we didn't play that aggressive but I was pretty happy," the Queenslander said.
"I don't run a lot anyway but the last thing you want is to run for a ball and then you can't do anything five or six days later."
Kyrgios wasn't the only Tomic target though, with the often controversial star saying he believes the Dunlop balls that are being used for the Australian Open series should be sent back to where they came.
As part of a five-year deal Dunlop took over the ball partnership with the Open, replacing Wilson.
"I don't know what the Australian Open has done, but it is terrible," Tomic said.
"I don't know too much (about the balls), but I don't feel like it is that good of a ball. I think they're pretty cheap from what I've heard."
KOKKINAKIS WITH A POINT TO PROVE
Thanasi Kokkinakis says he has a point to prove after being surprisingly denied a wildcard entry to the Australian Open.
The 22-year-old advanced to the second round of qualifying for his home major on Tuesday, defeating Egypt's Mohamed Safwat 6-2 7-6 (7-4).
One of just eight men to defeat Roger Federer in 2018, Kokkinakis was snubbed for a discretionary main draw entry at Melbourne Park in favour of compatriots Alex Bolt, Marc Polmans and Alexei Popyrin - who are all ranked below the world No.145.
Kokkinakis declined to outline the explanation he had been given by Tennis Australia but said he was determined to prove himself.
"I'm obviously a little disappointed I didn't get it," he said.
"I'm just trying to keep to myself and play how I need to play. I know I'm good enough to qualify.
"There's a lot of guys that maybe should have been (in the main draw) but have been out with injuries or whatnot.
"They didn't fly all the way here for nothing. It's going to be hard."
Kokkinakis struggled to put away first-time opponent Safwat, notably breaking a string on the first of three match points, before prevailing in an hour and 47 minutes.
He will face Austria's Sebastian Ofner in the second round. Players must win three matches to reach the main draw in Melbourne.
The South Australian has grappled with knee soreness in recent months but said it had not significantly impeded him on the court.
After battling injuries, most notably shoulder issues, Kokkinakis was granted a wildcard into last year's Australian Open but lost a four-set match to Russian Daniil Medvedev.
He hasn't returned to the main draw of a major since, falling in qualifying for the 2018 French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.
Kokkinakis said he had been seeking advice from Darren Cahill, the former coach of Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt and Simona Halep.
"He's been a really good guy to bounce some ideas off and listen to," he said.
"He's not coaching me per se but he's giving me tips and pointers and mentoring me a little bit."