16 January 2017 | Alex Sharp

Nick Kyrgios ruthlessly dispatched Gastao Elias 6-1 6-2 6-2 to send out a warning to the rest of the field at the Australian Open on Monday night.

“The crowd was awesome, I love coming back here,” said the victorious 21-year-old. “I thought I had some fun tonight. I know I can do well at these tournaments.

“My level has been great all the last year. I’m 13 in the world. I’m not in a bad space. Trying to be positive, trying to enjoy myself a little bit.”

The enigmatic home favourite, who made the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park in 2015, kick-started the contest with an ace, and raced through the opening set in just 19 minutes.

It was more crisp ball striking in the second, with the Australian No.1 surrendering just nine points against the perplexed Portuguese.

Kyrgios canvassed the net well, and only hit three unforced errors. Set point was chalked up by a stunning NBA-style jumping forehand winner to edge closer towards a first-round victory.

The world No.81 tested Kyrgios’ resilience in the early stages of set three, but the home favourite stole a pivotal break at 2-2 with some blistering toe-tapping returns.

Leading 4-2, the 14th seed powered to deuce courtesy of a forehand brushing off the baseline, before consecutive precise backhand winners halted Elias’ challenge.

“I was actually really impressed with the way I served, the way I returned. I obviously haven’t played that many matches leading up to the match,” said Kyrgios, who felt a lot of emotions being back on home courts.

“There’s always a bit of prematch nerves as well. Obviously starting with a lot of expectation in the Australian Open. I was just happy the way I got it done pretty quickly.”

The Australian was composed throughout and feels he has learnt how to conserve his energy to boost his chances of vying for the title over the fortnight.

“There have been times where I’ve been pretty banged up by the end of the first week. You play tough players, and their bodies are in elite shape. It’s happened to me against Murray a bunch of times,” stated the 21-year-old.

“I feel like I’m stronger, and I’ve learned that you’ve got to save the energy.”

Kyrgios heads into the second round to tackle the challenge presented by Italy’s Andreas Seppi, who he beat in the round of 16 in Melbourne over five sets in 2015.

“Seppi is one of the guys I always liked to watch when I was a younger kid. I really care where we play,” said the Aussie, who prefers the Hisense Arena for his matches.

“His ranking slipped a little bit. He’s a floater. He beat Roger two years ago. I know what he’s capable of.”