After recovering from his own infection, Nick Kyrgios promised COVID-weary fans a show and duly delivered, with a tweener-laden 6-4 6-4 6-3 win over Briton Liam Broady to reach the Australian Open second round.
Kyrgios matches are box-office gold, but have dwindled through the pandemic, and home fans feared they would miss the Australian at Melbourne Park this year, after he tested positive in the lead-up.
But after exiting isolation on Sunday, the tennis maverick returned to the combustible John Cain Arena and gave raucous fans a night to remember, as he set up a blockbuster clash with Rusian second seed Daniil Medvedev.
Sealing the win with a furious backhand return down the line, Kyrgios dropped an 'F-bomb' in his televised oncourt interview and performed footballer Cristiano Ronaldo's trademark post-goal celebration.
On his way out of the arena, he took a swig of beer from a cup offered by a fan. COVID-19 be damned.
"I served... well today," said Kyrgios with an obscenity, as fans roared in agreement.
"I don't know what I have done to this crowd, as you guys are a zoo now. I am super happy to be here again."
Kyrgios only took minutes to ignite the terraces by breaking Broady in the opening game. He closed out the next game with an under-arm 'tweener'.
After lighting a fire under the crowd, Kyrgios proved unable to control it, as fans hooted between serves and yelled at Broady to go home.
"I kind of know I've created this... show, anyway," he said to chair umpire Nico Helwerth, urging the German to do more to quell the commotion.
Relegated to the straightman in Kyrgios' routine, 128th-ranked qualifier Broady could do little, but grin and bear it, as fans jeered and 41 winners fired past him.
"Everyone is telling me, like, 'Oh, you'll really enjoy it, it's going to be amazing', but I thought it was absolutely awful," said Broady.
"It's the first time I've ever walked onto a tennis court and been booed, which for me was a crazy experience."
Kyrgios has a 2-0 career record over US Open champion Medvedev, both wins in 2019, but never faced him at a Grand Slam.
After his recent illness, playing a long match against the superfit Russian may be tough for Kyrgios - especially if the match is held away from John Cain Arena.
"We're going to be playing on Rod Laver Arena," he said. "Let's be honest, I think we are."