Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios JULIAN SMITH

Kyrgios prepares to defend title in Marseille

TENNIS: Nick Kyrgios will forge uncharted territory on Tuesday night when he attempts to defend an ATP World Tour title for the first time in his career.

The Canberran has a bye into the second round of the Open 13 in Marseille, where he last season unwound an astonishing serving display over five successive matches to snare a maiden crown.

Kyrgios, 21, will face either Russian Andrey Kuznetsov or Tunisian Malek Jaziri for a place in the quarter-finals.

Seeded third, Kyrgios has a projected semi-final clash with second seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who comes off a strong win in the Rotterdam final over David Goffin.

Queenslander Bernard Tomic will attempt to avoid a third consecutive loss when he faces Belgian Steve Darcis in the first round of the Delray Beach Open.

Six young Australians this week claimed career-high rankings - Andrew Whittington (163), Alex De Minaur (244), Omar Jasika (252), Lizette Cabrera (185), Destanee Aiava (252) and Isabelle Wallace (452).

Perth's Matthew Ebden made the most ground, vaulting 57 places to No 348 after qualifying in Memphis before reaching the quarter-finals.

US Open winner Sam Stosur has re-entered the top 20 after reaching the Doha quarters.

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