WTA Tour

Gavrilova backs Federer after Swiss great warns Kyrgios

 Roger Federer (Getty)
Roger Federer (Getty)

Hong Kong - Australia's Daria Gavrilova backed Roger Federer on Tuesday after the Swiss great warned temperamental tennis star Nick Kyrgios he needed to work harder to realise his potential.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion offered the tough love to Kyrgios after the 23-year-old made yet another contentious exit from the Shanghai Masters on Monday.

Kyrgios crashed out to 104-ranked American qualifier Bradley Klahn, with his first-round match marred by a running argument with the chair umpire who suggested his efforts were "borderline".

Federer described Kyrgios as "a great player" but added he needed to a work ethic to go with his talent.

Gavrilova, the second-ranked Australian woman, said: "I'm pretty sure Roger is spot on."

She added: "(Kyrgios) is  definitely one of the most talented players out there and I love watching him.

"I don't know what happened in Shanghai but ... hopefully he can make a breakthrough and win a few slams."

The Russian-born Aussie, back at the Hong Kong Open after losing last year's typhoon-delayed final, added of her compatriot: "He's different, he plays different and I guess when you come to watch him you never know what's going to happen."

Gavrilova, the world number 34 who is seeded seventh at the Hong Kong Open, booked her place in the second round after a fiery three-set victory over the Kazakh Zarina Diyas.

The Australian queried a number of debatable line calls, at one point channelling her inner John McEnroe as she yelled at the chair umpire: "You can't be serious!"

But she raised her game after losing the first set to prevail 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

The win continues an impressive run of recent form in Asia for the 24 year-old, who beat world number 18 Jelena Ostapenko in Wuhan and stunned world number seven Petra Kvitova in Beijing.

Despite last year's final ending in the early hours in front of just a handful of bedraggled spectators, she insisted she has good memories of the tournament.

"I love coming back here," she smiled. 

Later on Tuesday Chinese number one Wang Qiang, currently enjoying the hottest streak of her career, cruised to a straightforward 6-0, 6-2 victory over Hong Kong's Zhang Ling.

Wang, who recorded impressive wins over Jelena Ostapenko and Karolina Pliskova en route to the China Open semis, is even being touted as a potential successor to double Grand Slam champion and China tennis icon Li Na.

After her latest win Wang said she was playing the best tennis of her career, adding she felt more "confidence" on court and was hitting the ball more aggressively.

Japan's Nao Hibino, ranked 125 in the world, bundled out 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur in straight sets. The Australian, who is still ranked 69, went down 3-6, 3-6.

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