Kyrgios Comeback Highlights Day 3 At The Australian Open, Djokovic Tough; Nadal Tests Back Again
by Staff | February 10th, 2021, 3:24 pm
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Nick Kyrgios did it again under the lights in Melbourne. The 25-year-old Australian bad boy was in deep trouble down two match points in the fourth set to a very in-form Ugo Humbert. But Kyrgios caught fire at just the right time, putting together an array of exquisite shotmaking to deny the Frenchman 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.

Kyrgios moves on to meet 2020 finalist and US Open Dominic Thiem in a match that likely will not be on Kyrgios’s face John Cain Arena.

“Honestly, I don’t know how I did that,” Kyrgios told Jim Courier on court. “I don’t even know what to say. I am lost for words. That is one of the craziest matches I have ever played.

“I haven’t played for a year and he has been playing some great tennis last year,” he added. “The one thing I probably have on him right now is experience. I have just drawn from experience so much on this court.

“I’ve had so many experiences and I just had to draw on that, put my head down and just try to make him play.”

Kyrios, who is now 8-2 in 5-set matches, will now face Thiem on Friday in the third round. The Austrian ran off 11 straight games during a 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 win over Dominik Koepfer.

“In general, it was a super good match,” said Thiem. “First of all, he was on fire at the beginning. The conditions were, I think, the hottest day since we in Australia, so I had to get used to that. Had to overcome some complicated situations. I think I saved two break points in the sixth game, then I broke him after long game for 4-3 . After that I played more freely, especially after the first set, kind of everything started to work.”

It figured to be an easy afternoon for 8-time champion Novak Djokovic against Frances Tiafoe, but it wasn’t. The American wouldn’t go away after dropping the first set, then overcame a 3-0 hole the third to force a break. But after 3.5 hours, it was Djokovic winning the last four games to win in 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(2), 6-3.

“It was a very tough match, very warm and a lot of long rallies,” Djokovic said . “I want to say that Frances put up a really good fight. The matches are only going to get tougher. I was fortunate to get through the third set today. It was anyone’s game and Frances served great.

“When you win a lot on Rod Laver Arena, you feel comfortable,” he added. “It feels like my living room, although I’m not sitting on my couch – I’m running all over the place. This is the quickest court conditions in the 15 years that I’ve played here.”

Djokovic record a career-high 26 aces in the win while Tiafoe also scored his best with 23.

Novak now meets another American in Taylor Fritz who outlasted his good friend and countryman Reilly Opelka 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-2. The towering Opelka let go a 5-1 lead in the fourth set tiebreaker!

Speaking of blown leads in tiebreaks, Stan Wawrinka battled back from two sets down to take a led in the decided match tiebreak 7-3. The Swiss then held three match points at 9-6 but wouldn’t win another point as the Hungarian took the last five to win it 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6(9).

“After playing four hours, I was not thinking about any tactics or how can I win this point,” said Fucsovics. “I just wanted to survive somehow, put every ball back, fight until the end. Against Stan, it is not easy. He is a very experienced player. He won three Grand Slams, but today I was the stronger mentally.”

Former semifinalists Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev won as did the three Canadians Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Milos Raonic.

Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime now meet Friday in the third round.

On Thursday in Melbourne, Rafael Nadal tests that bad back again in the night match against American qualifier Michael Mmoh. Alex De Minaur, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini are also in action.

THURSDAY AUSTRALIAN OPEN SCHEDULE
Rod Laver Arena – 11:00 AM
COLLINS, Danielle (USA) vs. PLISKOVA, Karolina (CZE) [6]
BARTY, Ashleigh (AUS) [1] vs. GAVRILOVA, Daria (AUS)
TSITSIPAS, Stefanos (GRE) [5] vs. KOKKINAKIS, Thanasi (AUS)
7:00 PM
GAUFF, Coco (USA) vs. SVITOLINA, Elina (UKR) [5]
MMOH, Michael (USA) vs. NADAL, Rafael (ESP) [2]


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