Nick Kyrgios advanced to the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time since 2016 on Saturday with a feisty 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(7) victory against fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Kyrgios, who will next play #NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima, claimed his first win at a major against a Top 10 opponent since the third round of The Championships in 2015. The 27-year-old will try to reach his third major quarter-final and his first since the 2015 Australian Open.
“Honestly it was a hell of an atmosphere, amazing match. I honestly felt like the favourite coming in, I played him a couple weeks ago. But I knew that it was going to be a tough match,” Kyrgios said in his on-court interview. “He’s a hell of a player. I had my own tactics out there and he knows how to play me, he’s beaten me once. Obviously I’ve had success. It was a hell of a match.”
The tension began to build at the end of the first set when Kyrgios was unhappy with a linesperson’s call on the baseline. For the rest of the match, the Australian had constant discussions with the chair umpire, the crowd and his player’s box. But ultimately, he emerged victorious after three hours and 16 minutes.
“I’m just super happy to be through. He was getting frustrated at times and it’s a frustrating sport, that’s for sure,” Kyrgios said. “I have the ultimate respect for him. Whatever happens on the court [is] on the court. I love him and I’m close with his brother.”
Tsitsipas was the more solid player in the first-set tie-break, as Kyrgios let his lack of concentration affect his play. That continued into the second set, with the 27-year-old losing his focus and spending much of his time voicing his displeasure between points and during changeovers. The No. 1 Court crowd was also much rowdier than normal for Wimbledon.
The Australian later received an audible obscenity warning after another linesperson made a report to the chair umpire. But through it all, despite playing very quickly and relying on his booming serve, the World No. 40 managed to remain in touch with the fourth seed on the scoreboard. He did not lose his serve in the match, saving all five break points he faced and winning 81 per cent of his first-serve points.
Kyrgios saved a break point at 4-4 in the second set thanks to a daring second-serve ace. After being on the brink of falling in a two-set deficit, Kyrgios instead levelled the match in the next game when a poorly struck Tsitsipas overhead allowed him punch a forehand into the open court for a winner.
In a sign of his frustration, as the players walked towards their chairs, Tsitsipas jabbed a backhand low into the crowd, barely missing fans with the ball.
While the dialogue continued during the third set, Tsitsipas lost concentration and his game began to falter, which allowed Kyrgios to surge ahead with a break at 2-1 behind a forehand winner. Later in the set, Kyrgios hit an underarm serve. Tsitsipas reached the ball, but hit with great force into netting behind the court, for which he received a point penalty.
The 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion appeared to aim shots in the direction of the Australian. On the other side of the court, Kyrgios continued to talk between points and curtsied to the crowd at 5-3 in the third set following a winning drop shot. After hitting a crisp backhand volley winner to claim the set on the next point, he made a “money” motion with his hand in praise of his own work.
The chatter began to taper off as the fourth set went on. Then at 4-4, the roof on No. 1 Court was closed due to darkness.
It all led to a critical fourth-set tie-break. The Australian let slip his first match point at 6/5 by missing an inside-out forehand wide, and he then saved a Tsitsipas set point at 6/7, which would have forced a decider. But the former World No. 13 completed his win with another key forehand drop shot, unleashing a loud roar after the point.
The six-time ATP Tour titlist is now 10-2 this grass-court season, having also reached the semi-finals in Stuttgart and Halle. Kyrgios is looking to make another deep run at Wimbledon, where he made his first big splash as a 19-year-old in 2014. That year, he defeated Rafael Nadal en route to the quarter-finals.
Did You Know?
Kyrgios now owns 25 wins against Top 10 opponents (25-39).
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