Watch: Nick Kyrgios reveals the 'tweener serve' - a between-the-legs shot that stunned Australian Open

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Nick Kyrgios turns to the thrilled crowd after pulling off his 'tweener' serve - SHUTTERSTOCK
Nick Kyrgios turns to the thrilled crowd after pulling off his 'tweener' serve - SHUTTERSTOCK

Australia's great entertainer Nick Kyrgios might not have played a competitive match since August, but he has clearly been spending time in his tennis laboratory, dreaming up new shots.

Within five minutes of the start of today’s match against Liam Broady - a British contemporary he used to face on the junior circuit - Kyrgios had wowed the Australian crowd with something never seen before on a professional match court: a tweener underarm serve.

In other words, Kyrgios stepped up to the baseline as if he was about to send down one of his regular 140mph exocets. Then, unexpectedly, he dropped the ball between his knees and whipped his racket forward from behind his back, like a man performing a conjuring trick.

The shot came off perfectly. The peculiar method of delivery meant that it carried heavy sidespin, sliding into the body of the left-handed Broady, who was forced to improvise a one-handed backhand poke in response. (He normally plays a double-fisted backhand.) The ball sailed long to give Kyrgios a 40-0 advantage in that opening service game.

Afterwards, Kyrgios turned to the crowd with has palms out, as if echoing Maximus’s famous message from the film Gladiator: “Are you not entertained?”

He went on to secure a 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory in 1hr 54min, with 21 aces. Kyrgios then dropped the f-bomb in his on-court interview, telling Jim Courier "I served f---ing well today", before taking a sip of a fan's beer as he walked off - probably not a glowing example of Covid compliance.

At just 26, Kyrgios sometimes gives every impression that he is losing patience with the lifestyle of a touring tennis pro. At the weekend, he told reporters “I feel like this year’s kind of [a] year of freedom for me to dabble in areas that I want to do things in, and ... just collaborate with other things that aren’t tennis.”

He appeared in only seven tournaments last year, saving his best performances for Wimbledon and the Australian Open, and is not expected to significantly exceed that number in 2022.

But if the Iranian trick-shot specialist Mansour Bahrami can build a career out of exhibition appearances, then Kyrgios - who is arguably less committed to tennis than to playing Call of Duty on his PlayStation - can perhaps turn his arsenal of crazy strokes into a lucrative line of work.

His good humour also extended to reflecting on his unlikely support for his erstwhile rival Novak Djokovic, over the Serbian's row with the Australian authorities over his visa status.

"It's a new bromance," Kyrgios said. "I could ask him to play doubles."