Nick Kyrgios, the last Australian remaining in singles competition, has thrilled the Melbourne Park crowd with a five-set win over Italy’s Andreas Seppi to make the last eight.
Kyrgios looked irritable and out of touch as he went down two sets to love, then fought back to win 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 8-6 in his fourth-round match on Hisense Arena on Sunday night.
“It feels so good,” Kyrgios told Channel Seven.
“I knew he would have a lot of confidence, beating Roger [Federer], I just think drawing on my experiences, coming back against Richard Gasquet, I knew that I could do that. And the crowd was unbelievable.”
Games went on serve early in the match, but the Australian suddenly lost serve to love in the 11th game to hand Seppi the advantage.
The Italian, who caused the upset of the tournament when he beat Roger Federer in the third round, served out to win the opening set in 43 minutes – Kyrgios smashed his racket in frustration when he missed a chance to set up a break back.
Games again went on serve in the second set – although Kyrgios had Seppi at 15-40 in the fourth game before the Italian held.
The set looked likely to go to a tie-breaker before Kyrgios lost concentration to lose the 10th game, handing Seppi a two-set lead with a 6-4 scoreline.
With his Open hopes on the line, Kyrgios finally hit form, breaking in the second game and consolidating for 3-0 in the third set.
The Australian went on to win the set 6-3 to keep the match going.
The fourth set was a tense affair, and Kyrgios threw away a big opportunity when he challenged a Seppi groundstroke rather than play on at 0-30 on the Italian’s serve in the seventh game.
He lost the point, and Seppi went on to hold serve. Games then went with serve until 5-6 when Kyrgios – serving to stay in the match – double faulted when on game point to take the set to a tie-break.
He recovered with two straight aces to make it 6-6. Seppi netted a return on the opening point to go a mini-break down, but Kyrgios gave up the break two points later.
The Australian went ahead 3-2, then gave the break back the following point.
The next four points went on serve, Kyrgios then sent down an unplayable serve to go to set-point at 6-5, and the Australian followed up with a drilled backhand winner down the line to level the match after three minutes short of three hours.
Kyrgios rode the momentum, breaking his opponent in the second game of the final set.
He came under pressure on serve in the fifth game, before holding for a 4-1 lead.
However the Italian was not giving up, and he reeled off 12 straight points to seal the break and hold for 4-4.
The Australian appeared to be tiring, but he pulled two aces out in the ninth game to hold for 5-4.
For the first time Seppi had to serve to stay in the match, and the Italian was pressured into an error to go down 15-30 before holding for 5-5.
Kyrgios held to 15 to make it 6-5, then Seppi levelled it up again in the 12th game.
The Australian threw in a double fault at 30-15 in the following game, but he held in the end for 7-6.
Seppi netted a return off the opening point of the next game, and when he hit a forehand long, Kyrgios was two points from victory.
The Australian then found the corner with a cross-court backhand to set up three match points, and finally Seppi pushed an approach shot wide to give Kyrgios a dramatic win.
The win makes the 19-year-old Kyrgios the first teen since Roger Federer in 2001 to earn multiple quarter-final spots in grand slam tournaments.
He will play the winner of Britain’s Andy Murray and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the last eight.