After pulling out of last weeks Atlanta Open with a bad knee, Nick Kyrgios is showing impressive form at the Citi Open in Washington where he has now reached the last 16 with a resounding defeat of American Tommy Paul, the 14th seed as he continues his preparations for the US Open at the end of the month.
"I feel as if all these matches are so crucial. As I didn't get any points from Wimbledon, I'm trying to stay locked in, but in a way, it's good because I'm still putting in some really good performances Nick Kyrgios
Kyrgios was ‘locked in’ as he fired 15 aces, saved all four break points he faced and converted three of the four he raised to weep into the third round after one hour and 25-minutes.
And not surprisingly, he received a code violation for ball abuse which sparked off an argument with the umpire but then received the crowd’s approval for handing a towel to an elderly spectator who was inadvertently struck by a wayward ball.
“I always seem to find my best tennis when I play Tommy,” said Kyrgios, who also beat Paul in Houston in April. “I played pretty two flawless matches from a return and serve standpoint.”
Wimbledon finalist Kyrgios, ranked No.63 who defeated Marcus Giron in straight sets in round one, added: “I feel as if all these matches are so crucial. As I didn’t get any points from Wimbledon, I’m trying to stay locked in, but in a way, it’s good because I’m still putting in some really good performances.”
Up next for the Aussie is a third American, the big serving 6’10” Reilly Opelka , seeded four for the event, who following a first round bye, struggled initially against compatriot Denis Kudla before going through 6-7(6) 6-4 6-4.
However, Opelka hit 28 aces and saved an early break point in the second set before winning 19 straight points on serve to level the match. He then produced three more love service holds in the third set after gaining control with a break in the opening game of the decider.
Kyrgios and Opelka have met twice before and on both occasions the American has proved the stronger.
Surprisingly, last Sunday’s Atlanta winner Alex de Minaur, was defeated 3-6 7-6(6) 6-2 by Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, with the Aussie no doubt still suffering from the effects of his trip to the heat ridden state of Georgia.
The second seed, Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz also crashed out as Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori got the better of him to go through 6-4 7-6(3) where he will meet his Swedish neighbour, Mikael Ymer, Andy Murray’s first round conqueror who followed that up that win by defeating the 15th seed Aslan Karatsev 6-4 3-6 6-4 to make round of 16.