NIck Kyrgios beat Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas on Wednesday night at the Australian Open -- his second Pablo put-down in two matches after ousting Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in round one. But it was his shorts rather than his shots making headlines.
Yeah, you read that right. His shorts.
We'll make this a shorts story, not a novel. Kyrgios had major menswear issues before the ball had even been served on Wednesday night. He argued with his brother Christos before the game, the issue appearing to be that his pockets were "not right". His brother told him to worry about it tomorrow.
But Kyrgios was clearly agitated. Despite winning the first set with the same aggressive-yet-sensible tennis which he employed against Pablo I on Monday, Kyrgios was a more fidgety, niggly version of himself against Pablo II. And it was all the fault of his shorts.
The deal was this. Normally he has a ball for serving and a ball stashed in his pocket. But for whatever reason, he couldn't keep a ball in his pocket with the shorts he was wearing. Maybe the pockets were too loose, maybe they were too tight. The details were unclear. All we know for sure is that the shorts were shot.
So Kyrgios changed them. He took a "comfort break", which is what those terribly polite tennis types call a toilet break, and returned to the court with new black shorts (the other ones were white) and renewed concentration. He soon won the second set.
The third set was an intriguing contest. Channel Seven commentator Jim Courier memorably described the Uruguayan as an automatic car without a change of gears. That wasn't an insult. It was a way of saying Cuevas hummed along as reliably as a Corolla, rarely playing a bad shot.
But a Corolla is never going to run down a sports car. And though Nick Kyrgios blew a service break and a gasket or two in the third set, he saved two set points to take the set to a tie-break, which he then dominated with flawless tennis to see out the match.
Nick Kyrgios won 6-4 7-5 6-2 within two hours and will face Czeck Tomáš Berdych in the third round. Berdych was a quarter finalist here last year.
"I'm relieved to be through that in straight sets. He's a great competitor," Kyrgios said of Cuevas. Then turning to the crowd, the natural showman said:
"You guys helped me in that third set. I was struggling but you guys really lifted me."
As for the shorts debacle, Kyrgios had only this to say:
"It was an absolute circus. I'm not going to talk too much about it. It was just a massive mix up."
And that's the long and shorts of it.
IN OTHER TENNIS STUFF ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT
This happened. Which makes Jo-Wilfried Tsonga just about the best bloke ever.
Tsonga won that match against 18-year-old Melburnian Omar Jasika 7-5 6-1 6-4.
Meanwhile Daria Gavrilova defeated 6th seed Petra Kvitova 6-4 6-4, in what was a major upset for the Russian-born Aussie who moved to Melbourne -- among other reasons -- because of her Australian boyfriend and love of coffee.