INDIAN WELLS – He was fresh off a cross-country flight from New York, where he took part in the World Tennis Day event at Madison Square Garden.
But Aussie star Nick Kyrgios quickly found his favorite practice partner.
And so, Kyrgios and girlfriend Alja Tomljanovic, who is coming back from shoulder surgery and has been away from tennis (and most often away from her heart) for more than a year, went out for a knockup.
Kyrgios combined words of encouragement with a little coaching, a little hotdogging, a little interaction with the crowd and a little quality time with his ladylove.
As it happens, it was the eve of International Women’s Day.
These two are fairly besotted. It’s pretty adorable. Kyrgios even mentioned in his press conference Tuesday after defeating Alexander Zverev that he was bit bummed his girlfriend had left town two days ago.
But he’ll see her at the next stop in Miami.
It’s a long way from the last 12 months, when Tomljanovic was rehabbing and often in Florida as Kyrgios was on the road travelling the tour; it was a challenge to carve time to see each other.
There are other boyfriend-girlfriend combinations on the WTA and ATP Tours, but it’s not that often you’ll find them hitting with one another during tournaments. But Kyrgios isn’t your average ATP Tour guy; he actually likes hitting with the women, appreciates the rhythm he gets from returning the flatter ball. One of his favorites is doubles star Sania Mirza.
Not to be outdone, Kyrgios was back at it the very next day (on International Women’s Day) having a hit at the beginning of Japanese lefty Misaki Doi’s practice.
Ever the gentleman (I know, you’re thinking – you just called Kyrgios a gentleman?), he let Doi have the bench while he took the best available alternative.
Kyrgios’ magic touch in this tournament didn’t carry over to his practice partners, sadly. Tomljanovic lost in the first round to Julia Goerges, 7-5, 6-2 while Doi, who took the court hours after her hit with Kyrgios, lost to qualifier Anett Kontaveit.
But it is likely not a sheer happenstance that Tomljanovic’s return to the scene in the last two weeks (she made her comeback in Acapulco last week), with Kyrgios there for both, coincides with some terrific tennis from her significant other (there was the win over Novak Djokovic in Acapulco in their first meeting and the routine win over Zverev Tuesday, in their first meeting).
He appears to be in extremely good spirits. We may be about to find out if happy/content Kyrgios is as good a player as p…ed off Kyrgios. He might even be better.