Estoril - Last year's finalist Nick Kyrgios
got his delayed clay season off to a winning start on Wednesday to set up an
ATP showdown with Croatian teenager Borna Coric at the Estoril Open.
The Australian, who has not competed since
an April 1 Miami semi-final, made his Portuguese return as he beat Spain's
Inigo Cervantes 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 in the second round following a bye.
He earned the victory in 72 minutes on his
21st birthday to set up the high-profile first-time meeting with Croatian
Kyrgios expressed some disinterest in his
victory after being feted post-match on court with a video of birthday messages
from family and friends.
"I can think of 50 things I'd rather
be doing today rather than playing a match," he said.
"That was one of the best presents
I've ever had. It was pretty much everyone I'm good friend with or are family.
It means a lot that they are supporting me."
Kyrgios is back at this seaside resort
outside of Lisbon after winning the first trophy of his career in February in
The world number 20 claimed his 15th
victory of the season as he broke in the 11th game of the second set and
finished a game later on the first of his three match points. He ended with
"There were not many rallies, this was
not a very high-quality match. The quarter-final with Borna will be tough as
he's playing well.
"All I did today was serve well,
that's what I've been doing the last few months."
Coric had to go the two-hour distance as he
held off a charge from Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.
The sixth-seed duplicated his showing from
a year ago on his debut when he moved into the last eight.
"I was happy with how I played in the
first set," said the winner. "But in the second set his level rose
and I realised I was playing too passively.
"In the third I went back more
offense. The quarter-final with Nick will be tough and I'm not favoured.
"But that doesn't mean that I'm not
going out there to fight and to try and win."
Coric looked like advancing in straight
sets against 101-ranked Dutra Silva, but he lost his way as he dropped serve to
trail 4-5 in the second set after earning the first.
The Brazilian levelled at a set each but
faded in the third as Coric fought back to stake his claim on victory through
five aces and the same number of service breaks.
Coric stands just 13-11 this season despite
finals in Chennai and Marrakech.
Third seed Benoit Paire beat Briton Kyle
Edmund 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3 while Spain's fifth seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
advanced into the quarters as he defeated Stephane Robert of France 6-3, 7-6
In the first round, Spanish wild card
Fernando Verdasco, who replaced injured Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, made only a token
58-minute showing as he lost his first-round match to eighth seed Pablo Carreno
Busta 6-1, 6-3.
Verdasco, ranked 51st after once standing
inside the ATP top 10, only arrived on Tuesday after winning a rain-delayed
final in Bucharest on Monday for the seventh title of his career.
"Conditions here were difficult and
Pablo put me under a lot of pressure. I did what I could but it would have been
tough for me to win today," the Spaniard said.
"When you are not at 100 percent and
are facing a good player, these things can happen. Coming here so late after
the final did not help me."