Nick Kyrgios blew the roof off of Hisense Arena, which he has proclaimed is officially his favourite court, by climbing back from two sets down to defeat Andreas Seppi and become the first Australian in 10 years to reach the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park.
The flamboyant teenager rallied the home crowd behind him as he saved a match point in the fourth set before forcing a tiebreak and moving into a decider against Seppi, who was coming off a brilliant four-set win over Roger Federer in the third round.
And despite squandering a 4-1 lead in the fifth set, Kyrgios regained control to deny Seppi a maiden grand slam quarter-final appearance with a 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 8-6 win.
“It's crazy. I don't think it's sunk in yet. When I saw I had finally won the match it was incredible. It was the best feeling I ever had,” said Kyrgios, who is through to his second career major quarter-final, having reached the same stage at Wimbledon last year.
A mere 12 months ago, Kyrgios had lost a five-set clash with Benoit Paire after leading the Frenchman by two sets to love. He later said he mishandled his emotions that day, wasting too much energy by interacting with the crowd and that it was an important learning experience.
He hasn’t lost a five-set match since, beating Richard Gasquet last year at Wimbledon, Federico Delbonis in round one last week in Melbourne and now Seppi last night.
“I think I'm just managing my emotions a bit better out there. I thought I was pretty composed for the whole match,” said Kyrgios, who is the first teenager to reach multiple major quarter-finals since Roger Federer in 2001.
“When I needed to get into the crowd, I did that. They were unbelievable tonight. I think they were a massive part of that win. I'm just learning every time I step out on the court when to show emotion, when not to.”
Photo via @australianopen Twitter account
“That was ridiculous. Never seen anything like that. That's the first time it's ever happened to me,” he admits.
It is the first year the Australian Open opens Hisense Arena to non-ticket holders and it seems their decision has paid off as the crowds got to witness a match they will never forget.
Still, Kyrgios will have to prepare himself for a battle on a new stage – Rod Laver Arena – when he faces Andy Murray on Tuesday.