Australian young gun Nick Kyrgios has sensationally knocked top seed Roger Federer out of the Madrid Open with a stunning 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (14/12) victory.
The fast-paced contest took more than two and a half hours and denied top seed Federer any chance at a fifth title at the claycourt Masters event.
Kyrgios, who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon last year, sent down 22 aces to Federer’s 15 and next faces John Isner of the United States.
The Swiss saved five match points in the deciding tiebreaker while having two of his own annulled by the big-hitting Australian youngster, ranked 35th.
A beaming Kyrgios said this win felt even better than his Wimbledon triumph over Nadal.
“I think this is definitely the greatest win over my career so far,” Kyrgios said.
“It doesn’t really feel real at the moment.
“I didn’t really feel as if I was playing out there – it almost felt like I was watching.
“It was similar to that match at Wimbledon when I played Rafa. It’s a strange feeling. It hasn’t happened many times in my career… it’s happened twice now. It’s pretty exciting.”
To clinch the win, Kyrgios needed to overcome an expletive-laden first-set meltdown, in which he was given a code for unsportsmanlike conduct in the first set tiebreak, saying “get him out of here” to chair umpire Mo Lahyani in reference to a line umpire following an incorrect call.
As Kyrgios reeled off a string of impressive winners and powerful serves to race to a 5-0 lead in the tiebreak, the normally unflappable Federer barked “we need a clown for this circus” at a change of ends.
“I couldn’t return his first serve, I had a horrible performance on return of serve,” said Federer. “That made life difficult for me.
“I’m disappointed with how I played on returns, and that cost me the match.”
Earlier, Rafael Nadal lifted his clay-court record over Americans to a perfect 10-0 as he beat Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-3.
The third seed and defending champion improved to 12-3 on clay in 2015 thanks to his win in an hour and a quarter.
The French Open champion, who has four Madrid titles and has played in six finals at his showcase home event, is aiming to extend his streak of winning at least one European clay title leading into Roland Garros to 11 straight years.
David Ferrer faced a repeat of his second round match in Madrid last year but this time had no trouble crushing fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos 6-4, 6-0, while sixth seed Tomas Berdych beat Richard Gasquet 7-6(6/3), 7-5.