Nick and Daria next to fly flag
... As defeated Tomic unleashes on Hewitt
NICK Kyrgios and Daria “Dasha” Gavrilova will lead the local charge at the Open today, after day one served up a swag of Aussie victories — which was later somewhat overshadowed by a rant from bratty Bernard Tomic.
Tomic left the court with a sportsman-like handshake after his straight sets loss to Croatian Marin Cilic.
But in a later press conference he unleashed an almighty spray on Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt, claiming the former world No.1 had a “conflict of interest” and was the root of issues with Australian players.
“No one likes him anymore,” Tomic said.
“He’s just doing the wrong thing. He’s playing Davis Cup — I thought he was retired.
“He’s playing all these matches and stuff like this ... he used to hate Tennis Australia ... now he loves them. What’s happened here?”
He added: “Go away... Like, literally. If you’ve retired, why are you still in tennis?”
Meanwhile, a more unassuming young star, Alex de Minaur, earned a spot in the second round — the teen cruising to a straight-sets win over Portugal’s Pedro Sousa.
Seeded 27th, de Minaur was among a string of Aussies to forge through on day one including Ashleigh Barty, Matt Ebden, Jordan Thompson and wildcard Zoe Hives.
Speaking after the match Barty said she just wanted to enjoy the experience.
“I want to make sure I prepare well so I can come out here and enjoy and win a few matches for myself and my team, and hopefully everybody else sitting here,” she said.
A total of 66,903 fans turned out take in the first day and night of action.
Today, all eyes will be on Melbourne Arena as a feisty Kyrgios faces big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.
Eleven-time grand slam event champion Rod Laver urged Kyrgios to shut out the white noise.
“He just has to concentrate on the game while he’s out here, but sometimes other things creep in,” Laver said.
Melbourne teen Destanee Aiava will be first on centre court, with a tough game against US star Madison Keys.
Gavrilova faces Slovenian Tamara Zidansek on Margaret Court Arena.
Elsewhere, Samantha Stosur, Ajla Tomljanovic, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Alex Bolt and Alexei Popyrin are hoping to give the home fans something to cheer about.
Brit Harriet Dart became the first player knocked out, smashed 6-0, 6-0 by shrieking 2008 Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova.
Speaking at the official launch of competition yesterday, four-time Australian Open champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley said Barty was a testament to the talent coming through in Australia’s women’s tennis.
And Laver said it was players like de Minaur, ranked 29 in the world, who offered the greatest example of “great things” to come.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal saved his biggest serve for a member of the press pack.
After defeating Australian James Duckworth 6-4 6-3 7-5 on Rod Laver Arena, Nadal noticed a journalist had drifted off to sleep and promptly pointed him out.
“It’s not interesting today,” Nadal joked before the reporter was woken by colleagues. “You were closing your eyes to be more focused on what I am saying.”
Bernard Tomic trudges off court last night after his defeat by Marin Cilic.