January 25, 2020
Nick Kyrgios lived up to his reputation as the great entertainer by giving the tennis world the clash we all wanted.
A showdown with his arch-rival Rafael Nadal awaits after a five-set thriller against Karen Khachanov.
The Rafa-Kyrgios match-up was electric at Wimbledon last summer. Nadal won in four to take the head-to-head to 4-3 in his favour.
But Kyrgios gets under the Spaniard’s skin every time. And he will have home advantage.
We can’t wait!
The problem is that Nick will also be struggling to recover physically from what he just achieved.
He fell to the floor exhausted as the stadium erupted around him after witnessing his 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (6-8), 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (10-8) victory.
The champions tie-break had it all, with Khachanov a break up and serving at 8-7 after eating up Nick’s early 3-0 lead.
Then Kyrgios conjured an incredible backhand down the line and just smiled as the crowd raised the roof in appreciation.
It was the key moment in four hours and twenty-six minutes of mayhem on Melbourne before Kyrgios crosses over to Rod Laver for the big one next time out.
Kyrgios said: ‘It was crazy. I don’t even know what to say right now. That was insane. You guys were unbelievable again.
‘That was just epic man, I don’t even know what’s going on. My legs feel like they weigh about 40 lbs each.
‘I was losing it mentally after having match points in the third and fourth but my team helped me through.
‘I haven’t had a moment like that for four or five years since I played Andreas Seppi so it’s definitely one of the best of my career.’
Kyrgios gave Nadal an unusual amount of respect before their much-anticipated meeting.
That was interesting because Rafa has accused the younger man of disrespecting him in the past.
So Nick didn’t want to add fuel to the flames and motivate his opponent even more.
Kyrgios said: ‘Nadal has a winning record against me and he’s one of the greatest players of all time. He’s a champion. I’m just going to give it all I can.’
Nadal will be fresh after his 6-1- 6-2, 6-4 victory over his compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta.
Kyrgios will probably have to win the first set to stand a chance of pulling off another upset.
And speaking of upsets, watch out for Garbine Muguruza, the former Wimbledon champion who is now definitely on the charge in Melbourne.
She crushed fifth seed Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-2 after years in the wilderness. Once she gets into this sort of form, Muguruza can be hard to stop.
Meanwhile Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat second seed Karolina Pliskova in two tie-breaks to secure another shock result in the Aussie Open.