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Kyrgios’s big Australian Open challenge in front of reduced crowds

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Nick Kyrgios is among nine Australians in action on Monday, the first round of the Australian Open.

Mike Owen/Getty Images

Nick Kyrgios is among nine Australians in action on Monday, the first round of the Australian Open.

Nick Kyrgios concedes he may have to generate his own buzz with crowd capacity reduced to 50 per cent for the 2021 Australian Open in Melbourne.

Tennis’s No.1 showman is among nine Australians in action on Monday, up against Portuguese qualifier Frederico Ferreira Silva.

Kyrgios shouldn’t have too much trouble negotiating a way past the world No.184, but does admit to finding it difficult playing without the usual energy from fans.

Australia's Nick Kyrgios said it feels strange not playing in front of big crowds

Andy Brownbill/AP

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios said it feels strange not playing in front of big crowds

Love him or loathe him, Kyrgios sells and normally only plays before sellout crowds.

The pandemic has changed all that, and not to the 25-year-old’s liking.

“It feels strange. I don’t think I’m going to experience as good of memories as I have here previously,” Kyrgios said.

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“Last year when I played (Karen) Khachanov or (Rafael) Nadal, every single person in the stadium was going nuts.”

Given Kyrgios’s antics, they probably will be this year, too.

Bernard Tomic also starts his campaign on day one of the Australian Open

Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Bernard Tomic also starts his campaign on day one of the Australian Open

Only the stands will be half empty.

“Yeah, it’s a tough one,” Kyrgios said.

“I don’t know, I think it definitely favours some other players, playing with bare minimum crowds.

“It’s going to be tough. Especially in your home backyard … If I’m down two sets to love – I’ve been down like that before and come back and won.

“If there’s no crowd that day, I’m probably not going to win.

“(But) that’s the way it is right now. I can’t complain about it.”

Kyrgios will open the night session on John Cain Arena.

Fellow former grand slam quarter-finalists John Millman and Bernard Tomic, along with James Duckworth and wildcards Alex Bolt and Marc Polmans also open their campaigns on Monday.

Three Australian women also take to the court, including Aussie No.2 Ajla Tomljanovic against Misaki Doi, and Lizette Cabrera, who takes on world No.2 Simona Halep.

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