Blood, Sweat And Cramps: Kyrgios Defeats Wawrinka In Acapulco Thriller
Australian will now prepare for Isner test
In a match that started with blood, ended with cramps and was filled with gripping drama for more than two-and-a-half hours, Nick Kyrgios outlasted Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-4 on Thursday to reach the semi-finals at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC.
“I’m extremely tired,” admitted Kyrgios after the match. “I showed great resilience to come out and beat a player like Stan in some tough conditions. I knew I was going to be the underdog and the crowd was going to be in [his] favour, but I served great today...the way I've competed the last two days is massive. I've left it all out there."
Kyrgios evened his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Wawrinka to 3-3. With an identical FedEx ATP Head2Head against Rafael Nadal and a 2-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head over Novak Djokovic, he has earned a reputation for stepping up against the world's best.
The Aussie continued a remarkable turnaround to his season on Thursday. Coming into this tournament with a 2-3 record and an ATP Ranking that dropped to No. 72, he has defeated two multi-Grand Slam champions in the past 24 hours. Kyrgios overcame food poisoning and saved three match points in a third-set tie-break to defeat Nadal in an Acapulco classic on Wednesday.
“I didn’t pull up so great after the match against Rafa… but I just love playing here. Even though the crowd can get rowdy at times, the atmosphere is amazing," said Kyrgios. "Before this tournament, I wasn't playing very good. I was struggling with injuries. To have two good wins, I feel like the year is going back on track for me."
The match against Wawrinka fittingly started with drama after just three minutes of play. Kyrgios tumbled during the sixth point of the contest and required medical treatment mid-game for a large gash on his right hand.
Both players traded comfortable service holds until the 12th game of the opening set. A forehand sent wide from Wawrinka at 5-6 gave Kyrgios set point and the Aussie made good on the chance by ripping a forehand winner.
Fueled by his win over Nadal, Kyrgios continued to display the level of mental toughness he exhibited in that match. Although he handed Wawrinka a break of serve at 4-4 in the second set with a wild game of unforced errors, Kyrgios immediately regrouped in the next game with a pair of huge forehands to earn the break back.
At 3/3 in the second-set tie-break, a casual serve-and-volley attempt from Kyrgios was met with a swift backhand passing shot winner from Wawrinka. The Swiss star won the next three points to level the match, sealing a backhand winner on set point with a scream and fist pump to the vocal approval of the Centre Court crowd.
It appeared that Kyrgios might unravel midway through the third set. He received a code violation at 2-2, but the contentious moment fueled him. Kyrgios regrouped to earn two break points and cracked a forehand on his second chance for the crucial advantage.
But after more than two hours on court, and three hours of play on Wednesday against Nadal, Kyrgios’ body began to break down. He began to cramp leading 4-2 in the final set against Wawrinka, but found the strength to power through the final stages.
The Swiss bravely saved two match points serving at 3-5, but a forehand winner from Kyrgios in the next game ended the contest after two hours and 31 minutes.
Isner grit his teeth and fired down 38 aces in the final match of the day, which finished shortly after 2:30 a.m. local time. The American saved two set points at 3-5, 15/40 in the first set of his 7-6(2), 6-7(4), 7-6(4) victory over eighth-seeded John Millman of Australia in three hours and six minutes on Cancha Central.