Tennis

Defiant Kyrgios: 
I can win Aussie Open

Roger Federer may have his doubts about Australia's Nick Kyrgios, but the firebrand talent believes he is ready to become his nation's first home Grand Slam winner in 40 years.

The 21-year-old hammered 77th-ranked Portuguese Gastao Elias 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 to storm into the second round of the Australian Open yesterday, preserving his injured knee for a stiffer test against Italian Andreas Seppi in the next round.

A quarter-finalist on his Wimbledon debut in 2014 and again at Melbourne Park in 2015, Kyrgios has long been touted as a future Grand Slam champion.

But Federer has questioned his ability to become one at Melbourne Park this year.

"So I know (Kyrgios) has got a big game, but he has to beat four, five amazing players," Federer told local newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald before the tournament.

KYRGIOS HAS BEATEN FED

"Can he do that right now? I'm not sure. He can beat them, but not back-to-back, maybe. But I'm happy if he proves me wrong."

Kyrgios has always spoken of 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer with reverence and was reluctant, at first, to address his comments.

But he did not fail to mention his 1-0 winning record over the Swiss great, having beaten him in three sets in Madrid last year.

"Yeah, I mean, I'm not going to say anything back to him about it," Kyrgios said after thrashing Elias in 85 minutes.

"Obviously, it's his opinion. Everybody has it.

"Doesn't bother me at all. I know he's the greatest of all time. I know I just want to do my own thing.

"I played him once, I beat him once. (But) if I didn't think I'd win it, why would I play?

"I can win it. I've beaten pretty much everyone in the draw before. So I think so." - REUTERS

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