Melbourne - World
number seven Marin Cilic tested a knee injury with the best possible
result on Wednesday, but temperamental Nick Kyrgios' poor start to the
season continued at the Kooyong Classic.
Former US Open champion Cilic, who led Croatia to a Davis Cup trophy
in November, skipped last week's Maharashtra ATP tournament to rest.
The wait was worth it as he posted a gritty 6-3, 4-6, 15-13 win over
Kevin Anderson, recovering from 2-7 down in the new final-set tiebreaker
that will be used at the Australian Open for the first time next week.
Under the rules, the first player to win at least 10 points by a two-point margin takes the match.
Cilic, who was beaten by Roger Federer in an epic Australian Open final last year, said his knee was not a worry.
"The knee felt slightly more stiff than usual, maybe that's from a first match," he said.
"I need a few more days to play and train and hopefully reach 100 percent."
Cilic added: "It took me some time to recover from the emotional end to last season with the Davis Cup.
"I'm feeling a bit rusty, but I'm hitting the ball well and feel on good form."
South African world number six Anderson was battling jetlag after
arriving in Melbourne following a title victory at the weekend in Pune,
He is also relaxed about his form heading into the first Grand Slam of the season next week.
"It's good to play a competitive match, it's the best way to acclimatise," he said.
"I want to be as healthy and fresh as possible heading into next
week. This is my eighth match of the season, so I'm not worried about
Kyrgios, who was knocked out in the second round at Brisbane last
week, was beaten 6-3, 6-4 by friend and fellow comeback candidate
Bernard Tomic in an all-Australian battle.
Tomic ended his victory with a flourish, sending over a sneaky serve
on match point by hitting the ball between his legs for a winner - a
move which totally caught Kyrgios off guard.
"It was a lot of fun just to get back out there," the often edgy
Kyrgios, who has slipped to 51 in the world, said. "It's great to see a
good mate like Bernie having success again."
The crowd-pleasing tune-up for the Australian Open was marked by good-natured competition.
Tomic, who has been through many of the same dips and dives in his
motivation and form as Kyrgios, was also pleased with how he is
"It was another good training day. Nick and I have played so many
times at practice, we know exactly what the other is going to do - it's
a little bit like cheating," the 83rd-ranked Tomic joked.
"It was good to get out on court. I didn't play a lot of tennis last
year - which was my own fault. But at the moment I'm happy, the last
three months (of 2018) was good."