Kyrgios meets and beats his idol
They say never meet your heroes, but for Nick Kyrgios this encounter with his childhood inspiration Jo-Wilfried Tsonga went as well as he could have hoped.
In 2008, a young Kyrgios went to every Tsonga practice session as the Frenchman stormed to the Australian Open final. A decade later, Kyrgios was out on Rod Laver Arena putting his old idol to the sword, triumphing 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(5) in a thrilling performance that will surely rank among his best.
A blockbuster encounter that delivered plenty of tension, both players were excellent behind their own deliveries - each finished on 28 aces, with just three breaks of serve throughout. The first two breaks came early on in the first set, which was later settled when Tsonga double-faulted on set point in the tie-break.
The Frenchman responded well to that setback, breaking Kyrgios midway through the second and maintaining his advantage to tie proceedings at a set apiece. There was barely anything to split the pair in the third, with both players equally matched in the power and aggression stakes.
But again, Kyrgios prevailed in a tie-break, an environment in which he clearly thrives. However, he could still not break free from Tsonga’s challenge, and when he fell 2-5 behind in the fourth set tie-break, a decider looked imminent.
Yet there is a newfound maturity and determination to Kyrgios this year, and it was fully evident as he recovered from that precarious position, reeling off five straight points to claim victory and set up a fourth round clash against Grigor Dimitrov.
The mutual respect between the two competitors was clear to see as they embraced at the end of the match, with Tsonga telling Kyrgios that “it’s your time - make it.” It feels like it may just be.
Nadal rampages through
After winning the first five games of this match without breaking so much as a sweat, it appeared Rafael Nadal was on course for one of the heaviest victories of the tournament so far against Damir Dzumhur.
To the Bosnian’s credit, he managed to reign the Nadal juggernaut in a little, even breaking serve in the second set, but was nevertheless overpowered throughout the encounter, with the world No.1 triumphing 6-1, 6-3, 6-1.
Nadal has made a mockery of the pre-tournament talk about the state of his knees, and has looked in ominous form during a largely flawless run to the fourth round of the Australian Open.
The No.1 seed is in no mood to get carried away, though.
“I just try to go day by day,” he said.
“I am in the fourth round. That's because I am doing the right things. Let's see how far I can go.”
Wozniacki moves on
Following the stress of her second round match against Jana Fett, when she saved two match points during a thrilling comeback, Caroline Wozniacki was surely enjoying a much calmer outing against No.30 seed Kiki Bertens.
That was, until, the final game of the match, which lasted 13 minutes, featured six deuces and saw the world No.2 fend off four break points before sealing a 6-4, 6-3 victory.
Prior to that, the Dane had been relatively comfortable, keeping her error count to a minimum and making 83% of returns.
After taking the opener, Wozniacki broke at the first time of asking in the second set, and maintained her advantage to claim victory - but only after withstanding that last-ditch recovery effort from Bertens.
As it is, she finds herself in the fourth round of the tournament, where she will face No.19 seed Magdalena Rybarikova for a spot in the quarter-finals.
Around the Grounds
No.7 seed Jelena Ostapenko exited at the hands of Anett Kontaveit, meaning there are just two former Grand Slam champions left in the women’s draw - Angelique Kerber and Maria Sharapova.
Andreas Seppi overcame Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-7(5), 9-7 in a marathon encounter that began in the day session and ended during the night. Meanwhile, No.6 seed Marin Cilic continued his serene progress through the draw, downing Ryan Harrison in straight sets.