Fri | Nov 16, 2018

Kyrgios puts on show for Aussie fans

Published:Saturday | January 20, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Spain's Rafael Nadal hits a forehand return to Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia yesterday.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) :

With Will Smith in the crowd and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga across the net, Nick Kyrgios was in his element as the main attraction for a night at the Australian Open.

Time to put on a show.

One of his favourite actors Smith was making his Grand Slam debut as a spectator watched yesterday as Kyrgios held his composure to beat childhood hero Tsonga 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) in the third round. The 17th-seeded Kyrgios won the last five points after falling behind 5-2 in the tiebreaker.

For an Australian public desperate to see a first home-grown winner of the men's national title since 1976, a seemingly reinvigorated Kyrgios could be the redemption story of the tournament.

 

Nervous

 

"Playing Jo, I was obviously very nervous. He was a guy I looked up to as a kid. Still do," Kyrgios said in an on-court interview, recounting how he brought a ball to be signed by Tsonga every day when the Frenchman reached the Australian Open final in 2008.

Then he gave a nod to Smith, the actor he would pick to play the role of Kyrgios if there was a movie to be made.

"When I saw him out here I was so nervous. No joke," Kyrgios said. "People think I'm cool, but I wanted him to think I was the coolest person ever."

Cool was the optimal word late on Day 5, when a threatening heatwave subsided and no matches were suspended despite searing temperatures hitting 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) at Melbourne Park for a second straight day.

The Kyrgios-Tsonga match pushed top-ranked Rafael Nadal onto the No. 2 court at Melbourne Park for his match against Damir Dzumhur.

The change of scenery worked for Nadal, who lost last year's final to Roger Federer before going on to win the French Open and U.S. Open titles. Nadal reached the fourth round in Australia for the 11th time with the 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 win. He will next play No. 24 Diego Schwartzman, who beat Aleksandr Dolgopolov 6-7 (1), 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.