But the world number 19 got his act together to record a 3-6 6-2 6-2 victory and progress to the quarter-finals.
After racing through the first set in 26 minutes, the 22-year-old complained of feeling sick in the stomach and suffering asthma early in the second.
During one changeover the Australian appeared so relaxed that he sat back on his chair, arms behind his head, and sang along with a pop hit being played over the stadium loudspeakers. "Obviously (I'm) just really happy to get through", added Kyrgios.
Kyrgios said facing Zverev a year after Shanghai, and again in China, was the flawless opportunity to show how far he has come.
Third seed Dimitrov was beaten by Andy Murray in the Beijing final previous year and he overcame a serious hurdle in his attempts to go one better on Thursday.
"I just wanted to go out there today and kind of redeem myself a little bit from previous year", he said, adding: "I just wanted to prove to myself how much I have improved".
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This could be the same $100,000 which a USA official said Paddock transferred to the Philippines in the days before the shooting. He also said that there was no indication that Paddock was planning something like this and was in Vegas on a cruise.
"Then I kind of knew I had to loosen up and find my rhythm a little bit".
Speaking to reporters in Prague less than two weeks ago, Kyrgios discussed his outlook ahead of the Asian tournaments. I obviously haven't had the greatest memories in Asia, past year I had a awful end to the season but I don't know.
"I knew it was going to be tough", Kyrgios said after the win.
The eighth-seeded Canberran will meet Steve Darcis in the next round after he defeated fellow qualifier Dusan Lajovic.
Every win in Beijing is huge for Gavrilova and Barty as they chase spots in the season-ending Elite Trophy, which will feature players ranked from ninth to 20th who missed out on the eight-player WTA Championships in Singapore.
If Kyrgios wins Beijing, he could virtually rocket up to be among the top 10 contenders for the ATP World Tour Finals.
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