Henry Wancke | 9th Mar 2020 | 0
Melbourne | Kyrgios survives epic and progresses to meet Nadal
Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
Nick Kyrgios was kept on court for over four-and-a-half hours by Karen Khachanov to progress into the fourth round and a face off with Rafa Nadal in what could be an acrimonious clash between the pair.
He has a winning record against me. Whatever happens between us he's an amazing player Nick Kyrgios
Australia’s Kyrgios, seeded 23rd, eventually overcame the16th seed Khachanov in a five-set epic, 6-2 7-6(5) 6-7(6) 6-7(7) 7-6(10-8), in front of a vociferous crowd at Melbourne Arena.
The controversial Aussie will meet on Monday, the top seeded Spaniard, a man with whom he has frequently clashed in the pair’s previous meetings.
But while Kyrgios was kept on court for a lengthy period, Nadal had booked his spot earlier with a comfortable and less physical win over fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, winning 6-1 6-2 6-4.
Kyrgios could have won in straight sets but for some tenacious play by Khachanov who crawled back into contention from two sets down.
Both players required medical time-outs – Kyrgios receiving his off court in the first set while Khachanov required treatment to his shoulder in the fourth, saving a match point in the tie-breaker.
The two could not be separated as they fought each other for that place in round four where Nadal awaits and eventually, Kygios prevailed 10-8 in the deciding fourth tie-break of the match, a 10-point champions one.
Kelly Defina/Getty Images
His fourth round clash with Nadal is expected to be one of the matches of the tournament with two having clashed verbally over the years with Nadal accusing him of ‘lacking respect’ and Kyrgios describing him ‘super salty’.
Kyrgios this year has also mocked Nadal by mimicking his serving action during his second round match.
It will be their eighth meeting with Nadal currently leading 4-3.
Following his win and before the Kyrgios Khachanov clash, Nadal admitted he would prefer not to have to face Kyrgios, but that “if it goes that way then I will be ready.”
After his win against Khachanov, an exhausted Kyrgios described the victory as “one of the best of my career.”
“Man it was crazy. That was insane. I’ve got no words,” he told the crowd.
“My legs feel about 40 kilos each. I was losing it mentally after losing the third and fourth, after having match points. I thought I was going to lose, but you guys helped me over the line.
“Karen is an absolute warrior. He’s going to do some special things for sure. This is just the beginning for him.”
As for Nadal, Kyrgios played down any potential fireworks, saying: “He has a winning record against me. Whatever happens between us he’s an amazing player.
“I’m not thinking about that right now. I’ll give everything I have and hopefully that will be enough.”