The Nick Kyrgios match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was expected to be the blockbuster of the day and in many ways, it didn’t disappoint as it included an ‘incident’ which you would expect in a match featuring the volatile Australian.
Surprisingly it was the Frenchman who lost his cool in the Melbourne heat though Kyrgios received a code violation before a ball was hit, by arriving late on court.
However, the Aussie kept his composure and focus to consign Tsonga to a four set loss.
It was amazing. I’d never won a match on this court [Rod Laver Arena] coming here. Playing Jo, obviously I was very nervous. He was a guy I looked up to as a kid, I still do, he’s a champion, I’m just happy to get through. Nick Kyrgios
The ‘incident’ took place as Tsonga was trailing by two sets to one and no doubt frustrated by the play from the opposite side of the net, he reacted strongly to some heckling from the crowd, which led him to march up and down the court and point a finger at a spectator in the stands.
Shouting in French, he allegedly said: “Bring him down here and I’ll kick his a**!”
Umpire Jack Garner called for him to calm down, saying “nothing good can from this” and “you have to stop.”
Explaining the incident later, Tsonga said: “In the set point, in between the first serve and the second, the guy was talking to me and telling me, ‘You are under pressure now, you are under pressure now,’ when I was bouncing my balls. That’s it. I lost it and I [went] a little bit crazy.”
The match itself was a high-tension affair with both players serving aces and trying to get the psychological advantage competing strongly in the tie-breaks but in the end, it was Kyrgios who emerged the 7-6(5) 4-6 7-6(6) 7-6(5) victor.
“It was amazing,” Kyrgios said after the match. “I’d never won a match on this court [Rod Laver Arena] coming here. Playing Jo, obviously I was very nervous. He was a guy I looked up to as a kid, I still do, he’s a champion, I’m just happy to get through.”
Tsonga though, was dispirited saying: “I missed a backhand, then I went to the net not in a really bad condition, but he play a passing shot and he touch the net! It’s good play. What I can say? Then he was solid, no, nothing to say.”
Having eliminated Tsonga, Kyrgios now progresses to the fourth round where he takes on the third seed Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday.
At the top of the draw, Rafa Nadal cruised through another round dropping just five games as he dispatched Damir Dzumhur.
“When you win 6-1 6-3 6-1 in the third round, is always a great result, no? Without playing well, is impossible to have these kind of results. So happy for that. Happy to be through, yeah, fourth round. Already is good news” the world No1 from Spain said
Nadal, who has dropped just 21 games, should maintain his drive to the final when he plays the diminutive Argentine Diego Schwartzman who knocked out the explosive Alexandr Dolgopolov in four sets 6-7(1) 6-2 6-3 6-3.
“Being honest, he’s a player that if I don’t play my best, probably I don’t going to win,” Nadal said of the diminutive Argentine. “He’s a player that have all the shots, big control from the baseline, don’t miss much. He’s able to change directions easy. He’s a player that already played the quarterfinals in the US Open. He’s already in the fourth round.”
Two rounds away, Nadal could face Marin Cilic who brought to an end the hopes of Ryan Harrison 7-6(4) 6-3 7-6(4). The Croat now meets the US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta who stopped Gilles Muller 7-6(4) 4-6 7-5 7-5.
Also through is Grigor Dimitrov who having struggled somewhat in the previous round, made amends by dispatching Russia’s rising star, Andrey Rublev 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-4.
Dimitrov finished with 61 unforced errors including 15 double faults and knows he’ll have to improve to make any more progress.
“Obviously today was another tough test for me,” Dimitrov said. “I just had to find a way again, simple as that. At least the game was a little bit better than the previous match.
“I’m not going to give any excuses right now,” he added. “It was just not a good day for me serving-wise. I tried to change the way I was tossing the ball or serving throughout the whole match, but just didn’t work. Just didn’t work.
“I have to accept it and move on. 15, 16 double-faults, that’s absolutely unacceptable. So, yeah, hopefully I serve better next round.”
Standing in his way into next week is Nick Kyrgios who certainly will give him a match.
Finally, Andreas Seppi eliminated the big serving Croat Ivo Karlovic who delivered 52 aces, 6-3 7-6(4) 6-7(3) 6-7(5) 9-7 after three hours and 51-minutes. Seppi, who never once dropped his serve, is Kyle Edmund’s next opponent.