Kyrgios on song as Open dream stays alive
IT doesn't come any better for Nick Kyrgios, overcoming potentially damaging scheduling and an enraged Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to storm into the Australian Open's fourth round.
The Canberran clinched a quality 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5) victory with extraordinary serving and impressive maturity over 2008 runner-up Tsonga..
It is the first time Kyrgios has forged as deep in a major since Wimbledon in 2016.
And he did it against one idol - Tsonga - in front of another - actor Will Smith.
With 28 aces, just three double faults, 54 winners and 34 unforced errors, Kyrgios posted his first win on Rod Laver Arena, watched by the man after whom the stadium is named.
"To get a win against him (Tsonga) is a dream come true," Kyrgios said after withstanding Tsonga's electric challenge.
"It was amazing. I'd never won a match on this court, coming here.
"Playing Jo, I was nervous, he was the guy I looked up to as a kid. Just amazing to get through.
"I stayed composed, tried to just focus and I so happy just to get through."
The 17th seed will chase a third grand slam quarter-final appearance when he challenges Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday after the Bulgarian downed Russian Andrey Rublev 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-4.
In an enthralling clash lasting 3hrs, 17mins, both Kyrgios and Tsonga served supremely - the Frenchman also had 28 aces and only four doubles - and both had their issues.
For Tsonga, it was a distracting clash with a spectator.
The normally placid all-courter was so annoyed he challenged the unknown offender to come onto the court, shouting "bring him down here and I'll kick his ass."
His outburst drew an unofficial caution from US umpire Jake Garner, but Tsonga would not be restrained.
"He said something to me and I do what I want," Tsonga roared. Garner then formally warned Tsonga for unsportsmanlike behaviour.
Kyrgios's decision to partner Matt Reid in doubles surprised many with several retired players pointing to the Canberran's three-setter in Thursday's heat as a fitness negative.
Midway through the second set against inspired Tsonga, Kyrgios could be heard apparently agreeing.
"Why did I play doubles?," he said. "Doubles shit, what are you thinking?"
Jim Courier, watching courtside, could not fathom it either.
"If Nick thinks he has a serious chance to win a major, he does need to stop playing doubles," Courier said on Channel 7.
"It is a mistake to play, even if you enjoy it with your friends, because you can have some bad luck, get stuck in a 40 degree day like he did yesterday.
"They are not a threat to win the doubles tournament, it is not like they are going to win the doubles - that is not going to happen.
"All the players who think they have a serious chance to win majors in singles skip the doubles.
"They just do it because you can get caught out best of five and then you are backing that up."
Kyrgios defied a worrying trend and held his nerve impressively in the face of Tsonga's phenomenal 70 winners.
Asked post-match if he would partner Reid in second-round doubles, Kyrgios smiled and shook his head.
"Probably, probably. He's a good mate of mine, I'll see how I feel."