Nick Kyrgios' softer side comes to the fore after serve strikes ball girl in win

In an increasingly uncertain world, it's reassuring to know that there are some things we can still rely on.

One of them is that a match involving Nick Kyrgios will throw up some sort of zany incident. This is a man who, only two weeks ago, at Queen's, veered from the sublime of twice serving 32 aces in a match to the ridiculous of mimicking a sexual act with a water bottle.

Replay

Yesterday Kyrgios was entirely blameless for this moment of intrigue, which arrived towards the end of his 7-6, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 win over Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin.

As he closed in on victory, Kyrgios slammed down a 217km/h serve that struck a ball girl on an arm. She had to be led off the court in tears, though not before she had impressed Kyrgios with her bravery. "It was tough," said Kyrgios, who asked the girl a number of times if she was alright.

"Originally when I heard the sound, I thought it hit the scoreboard. Then I realised it was her arm. She took it like a champ, though. I would have been crying."

The match itself was a serve-dominated affair, with Kyrgios banging down 42 aces, but struggling for rhythm against the unconventional world No.92.

Should Kyrgios win his next match then an even more unpredictable opponent could await in the third round: fellow Australian Bernard Tomic. Kyrgios and Tomic have criticised each other publicly before, but Kyrgios insists he is pleased to see his compatriot -looking healthier in mind and body.

Tomic's ranking plummeted to outside the top 200 earlier this year after an existential crisis that included an appearance on the Australian I'm a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here, but he was a straight-sets winner yesterday against Hubert Hurkacz. Tomic, who plays Kei Nishikori in the second round, said after his win that: "I feel like I'm a dangerous player here."

Elsewhere in the men's draw, two-time champion Rafael Nadal cruised through his first-round match 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 against the diminutive Israeli Dudi Sela.

After his win, Nadal was pressed on whether he would be in favour of Wimbledon bringing in a shot clock to monitor how long players take between points – as the US Open will do later this summer.

Despite being one of the players who most regularly exceeds the 25-second rule at grand slams, Nadal said he would cope with the innovation. But he added: "I can't support this because I don't feel the matches that stay for the history of our sport went quick."

Another former Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic enjoyed a similarly smooth ride into the second round, cruising past American Tennys Sandgren 6-3, 6-1, 6-2.

Alex de Minaur's growing reputation continues to rise with the 19-year-old Australian knocking French Open semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato out of Wimbledon.

De Minaur, who reached the junior final at The All England two years ago, prevailed 6-4 6-7 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in an absorbing three-hour slugfest on Court 17.

The Sydneysider, who is mentored by former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt, showed all the fighting qualities of the 2002 Wimbledon champion to chalk up his first-ever grand slam win.

He'll now face Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the second round and victory over the Frenchman could potentially set up a third-round match-up with world No.1 Rafael Nadal.

There were, though, two high-profile casualties in the men's draw yesterday, as Dominic Thiem fell to a 4-6, 5-7, 0-2 defeat to Marco Baghdatis, while David Goffin was thumped 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 by the Australian Matt Ebden.

Elsewhere, there were easy wins for the fourth and fifth seeds Alexander Zverev and Juan Martin del Potro. Zverev hammered James Duckworth 7-5, 6-2, 6-0, while Del Potro eased past Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

The Telegraph, London; AAP

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