'Make me tear up': Tennis legend's incredible gesture floors Nick Kyrgios

The new decade has ushered in a new-look Nick Kyrgios.

The 23rd seed opened his Australian Open campaign with a 6-2 7-6 (7/3) 7-6 (7/1) win over Italian Lorenzo Sonego on Tuesday night.

As impressive as Kyrgios' performance was, it was the scenes after the match that left a lasting impression with viewers.

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Kyrgios has been instrumental in mobilising support for the Australian bushfire crisis, sparking a wave of movement from within the tennis world.

His calls led to Tennis Australia's Rally for Relief at Rod Laver Arena last week that helped raise more than $5 million for the bushfire cause.

His concern for his fellow Australians and passion for the cause have been obvious for all to see and on Tuesday night, Kyrgios landed another big-name supporter in the form of John McEnroe.

The American tennis great was full of praise for Kyrgios after the Aussie's first round win over Sonego, almost bringing the 24-year-old to tears during a gripping post-match interview.

“The way you led the way for the bushfire relief thing and everything you've done, I have to tell you, well done, man,” McEnroe said.

“Absolutely outstanding efforts and I know a lot of people share the same view but I wanted to tell you personally that I'm proud of you.”

McEnroe then endeared himself to the crowd and the millions of fans watching the coverage around the world with a brilliant gesture that left Kyrgios speechless.

“From this point forward I want to donate $1,000 to the bushfire relief fund for every set you win the rest of this tournament,” McEnroe said.

The wonderful moment left Kyrgios visibly moved as the crowd inside the stadium erupted.

Nick Kyrgios was moved by a wonderful gesture from John McEnroe for the bushfire cause. Pic: Getty

Kyrgios said ahead of the tournament he was finding it hard to concentrate on his home Grand Slam after the emotions sparked by the fires that have devastated huge tracts of Australia.

But he rose to the challenge and the 23rd seed did so in largely drama-free fashion, keeping himself calm for most of the match.

"I was definitely really nervous walking out there. But, I mean, the crowd was unbelievable. I got comfortable quite early in the match," he said.

"I'm just playing for a lot more than myself. I've said it before... there's not necessarily added pressure. I feel like I'm playing for a lot of people."

‘A pretty emotional couple of months’

The often controversial figure, who was handed a 16-week suspended ban in September after a series of outbursts, said the whole experience had given him pause for thought.

"I guess it's just a perspective thing, isn't it?" he said.

"Why am I really getting mad on the tennis court with everything going on?

"I felt like I was very focused today. Every match I've played this year, I've been pretty good. It's probably because of everything going on.

"I was just really excited to get out here. Obviously a pretty emotional couple of months for all of us, so I just wanted to come out and put on a good performance.

Nick Kyrgios celebrates during an impressive first round win. Pic: Getty

"This is my favourite court in the world... I feel super-comfortable. You guys are the best. I feel the support."

Kyrgios and Sonego were locked at 2-2 in the first set before the Australian claimed a first break and then motored through his next service game, dropping one point on Sonego's next serve to open a 5-2 lead before sealing the set.

They were inseparable in the second set as the lights on Melbourne Arena briefly went out, with coachless Kyrgios heard saying: "You know how hard it is to block that out, it's impossible."

But with ATP Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt watching from his box, he came through a tense tie-breaker to go two sets ahead.

Displaying all his tricks, including some trademark "tweeners", Kyrgios closed out the match in another testing tiebreaker as the crowd went wild, with a second round clash looming against either France's Gilles Simon or Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas.

With agencies