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Crafty Kyrgios leaves Medvedev in Rome dust

The Associated Press

Nick Kyrgios returns a shot to Daniil Medvedev during their first-round match at the Italian Open in Rome on Tuesday.

The Associated Press ROME (AP) — Nick Kyrgios took full advantage of his crafty game to eliminate Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round of the Italian Open on Tuesday.

For his first win on clay this year, Kyrgios was full of smiles as he fired aces and passing shots seemingly at will.

Kyrgios set the tone by serving underhand to start the match, catching Medvedev off guard. There were also a bevy of drop shots and even a successful through-the-legs effort.

“I was trying to throw him off his game because I knew he loves rhythm. He’s a great player,” Kyrgios said. “Today was a lot of fun. I thought the crowd was a lot of fun. It’s very important to go out there and put on a bit of a show.”

Medvedev played better after getting his lower back massaged after the first set but had no answer for Kyrgios’ wide array of shots in the third, prompting the frustrated Russian to break his racket by slamming it on the dirt.

Kyrgios won the final game at love by serving four straight aces. He had 15 aces in all.

Also, Joao Sousa saved four match points before beating Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-4) to set up a meeting with Roger Federer, who made a late decision to play in Rome because he wants more matches .

Italian wild card and Rome resident Matteo Berrettini reached the third round by upsetting 2017 Rome champion Alexander Zverev 7-5, 7-5 amid a raucous soccer-like atmosphere on Campo Centrale.

Serena skips match with sister

Meanwhile, Serena Williams withdrew ahead of her second-round match against sister Venus because of a previously injured left knee.

Tournament organizers made the announcement a day after Serena opened her clay-court season with a straight-sets win over Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson.

“I must withdraw from the Italian Open due to pain in my left knee,” Serena said, according to the WTA website. “I will miss the fans and competition at one of my favorite tournaments. I’ll be concentrating on rehab and look forward to seeing you all at the French Open and next year in Rome.”

The next tournament on Serena’s schedule is Roland Garros, which starts in less than two weeks.

It’s the third straight event that the 37-year-old Serena has exited from due to physical problems.

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