Nick Kyrgios made a winning start in Rome, taking down the 12th seed Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in swift an hour and 33 minutes for the tenth win of the season, losing only 18 points on serve and fending off three out of four break points.
Never finding the rhythm or the way to impose longer rallies, Daniil got broken once in sets he lost, finishing the match with 31 winners and 24 unforced errors while Kyrgios counted to 41 winners and 21 errors, staying focused despite some regular tantrums at the end of the second set.
The Aussie gave his best to keep the points on his racquet, delivering underarm serves (he opened the duel with one of those) and outplaying the Russian in the shortest points to forge the win and march into the second round.
Nick barely lost a point on serve in the opening set, breaking Daniil in game four and racing towards 6-3 with a hold in game nine. Medvedev earned a break at 4-3 in the second set and was the favorite in the decider, only to trail 3-0 after just a couple of minutes, with Kyrgios staying in the match and delivering that crucial break in game two.
The Aussie defended two break points in game seven to stay ahead and crossing the finish line with four aces at 5-3, happy with the way he performed today. "Daniil is an in-form player, competing on a high level for a while now, I think he is found, he knows how to win matches and what to do on the court.
Today, I tried not to give him any rhythm at all, serving big and keeping the points on my terms. He is still very young and he will a great career. I don't enjoy clay tennis that much, preferring grass or hard but knowing there's a big chunk of the year on clay and I'm trying to love it a little, bit, enough to make my match.
I know I can play on it after beating top players like Federer or Wawrinka, I draw confidence from those matches. While walking out there, I saw Tiafoe and I told him I'm going for an underarm serve in the very first point and I did, Daniil was standing far back and it gave me an advantage. I like Rome and the venue, enjoying much more than in Madrid."