Roger Federer shares 'emotional' Nick Kyrgios message with Australian public

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

Roger Federer has urged the Australian public to get behind Nick Kyrgios in a brilliant act of camaraderie at the Australian Open.

Showing no signs of ring rust, Federer began his campaign for a record-equalling seventh Australian Open title by dispatching American Steve Johnson in straight sets on Monday.

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In his first competitive outing since losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Finals in mid-November, Federer broke world No.75 Johnson's serve early in each set of the 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory.

In a post-match interview he sent a message to Aussie fans after being asked about his recent match against Kyrgios at the Rally for Relief.

Federer heaped praise on Kyrgios, commending him for kick-starting the push for Tennis Australia to help those affected by the crisis.

Roger Federer sent a message to the Australian public about Nick Kyrgios. Image: Getty

"It was nice to see us all get out there together," Federer said of the bushfire fundraiser, which raised close to $5 million.

"We appreciated it. We don't always have the time to go out there together.

"It was great and gave us an opportunity to get together and get behind a country that so much needs it.

"I was playing Nick as well, and I know his city was affected by it and he looked very emotional going out, during and after.

"I hope he really gets a lot of support this week because he's also one of the guys that got the ball rolling like so many other Aussie players."

Federer in fine form early

The evergreen Swiss has not lost in the opening round of a major since the 2003 French Open and has never been beaten in the first or second round at Melbourne Park.

"I just haven't played proper matches in many, many weeks, and a lot of guys, probably 95 per cent of the guys are coming here with matches," said the 38-year-old Swiss.

"So I'm not one of those guys, but now I have one. Best of five (sets) too, which is even better.

"For me, really the first three rounds are key to get going, to get used to the pressure, stay calm, when to save break point or 30-all points or whatever it may be.

Roger Federer celebrates his win at the Australian Open. (Photo by Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

"This is sort of the unknown that can be a little bit scary at times.

"But today there was none of that because I broke early each set and was able to get on a roll and play freely after that."

Even more remarkably, Federer has advanced at least as far as the semi-finals in 14 of his previous 16 outings at the Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic holds the record for most men's Australian Open singles titles with seven, including last year's triumph over Rafael Nadal.

Federer's second-round opponent on Wednesday will be either French qualifier Quentin Halys or Serb Filip Krajinovic.

with AAP