Nick Kyrgios rallied from two sets down, saved a match point, to beat Italy’s Andreas Seppi and reach his first Australian Open quarter-final on Sunday night.
The home favourite, 19, won 75 per cent of his first serve, 52 per cent of his second serve en route to eliminating Roger Federer’s conqueror 5-7 4-6 6-3 7-6(5) 8-6 in three hours and 34 minutes and becomes the first home quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005 (lost to Marat Safin in the final).
It is the second time in Kyrgios’ career that he would win from two sets down, having also achieved the same feat against Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the second round of Wimbledon last year, when he also reached the quarter-finals (lost to Canda’s Milos Raonic).
“It feels so good,” Kyrgios beamed. “I know that he had a lot of confidence beating Roger and knew he was going to make a lot of balls.
“Drawing on my experience at Wimbledon coming back against (Richard) Gasquet (from two sets down and saving eight match points), I knew I had the legs to do that.”
The Canberra native will face Andy Murray, 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 7-1 winner of the fourth round tie with Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov.
Giant killer against four-time champion Federer in the third round two days ago, Seppi kept up pace in the opening two sets combining his solidity in the baseline and playing the big points better as he saved all six points he faced in the period to set up a two-set lead to love.
But Kyrgios converted his seventh break point in the third set to find his way back into the game. He then saved match point in a last ditch effort of his own in the fourth round and then claimed the tie-breaker to force a decider.
After letting off a 4-1 lead in the fifth set as Seppi fought back to draw level, Kyrgios saved a break point in the ninth game to gain control and broke his opponent in the 14th game to close out victory.
“It’s crazy. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” he said after the win. When I saw I had finally won the match it was incredible. It was the best feeling I ever had. To know the body could come back from two sets to love, knowing I haven’t had matches, it’s just massive confidence.”
Murray playing well in Melbourne
Murray will be hoping to make it a perfect 11 win over Kyrgios in Tuesday’s quarter-final clash at Rod Laver Arena, after overcoming Dmitrov at the same venue on Sunday. One thing is for sure, Murray will not be expecting the partisan Melbourne crowd to render support, but feels he yet “might have a few” of those.
The 2011 champion seized initiative early on to race into a 3-0 lead over tenth seed Dmitrov, opening up leeway on his opponent’s serve.
Murray broke twice in the second set only to hand the advantage back. He failed to serve out the set at 6-5 and then handed two break points to Dmitrov, who reeled off some wonderful tennis to take the tie-break.
The British No. 1 made no mistake in the third, breaking to go 5-3 up before finishing up but not without pouring frustration on the umpire Jake Garner, who let a break point pass him when failed to spot what appeared to be a double bounce call.
Dmitrov stepped up again, breaking early in the fourth. The set looked to be headed for a decider, as Murray fought back from 5-2 down before taking the last five games in a row, sealing victory with a forehand return that smacked the net cord and rigmarole over to touch down in the Bulgarian’s territory.
Murray said: “I did get quite lucky at the end- a few net chords went my way. That was the difference- a lot of games went back and forth. Once I got momentum I tried to keep it going.”