Best In Show: Nick Kyrgios Feeds Off Fans’ Support To Reach Third Round | ATP Tour

Best In Show: Nick Kyrgios Feeds Off Fans’ Support To Reach Third Round | ATP Tour

Nick Kyrgios didn’t miss a beat as he continued his Wimbledon campaign on Thursday with a confident 7-6(7), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Gianluca Mager to charge into the third round.

The Aussie, who showed off his match-fitness in a 9-7 fifth-set win over Ugo Humbert in the first round, won 81 per cent of his first-service points and struck 29 aces, among 48 winners, for victory in one hour and 51 minutes.  

“[Winning] the first set was huge… I reckon he went out there with a game style knowing, ‘If I play my normal game style, I’m going to get crushed,'” Kyrgios said. “So he played a game style where he didn’t even let me get into rallies much. He was serving big on first and second, trying to get the first strike in whenever he could. He was hitting massive off both sides.

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“I finally just leveled myself. I even prepared myself. I said, ‘If I lose this first set, I’m not doing anything wrong.’ Mentally, I was like, ‘I’m just going to continue to go out there, keep serving. I’ll get my chance.'”

Kyrgios, who reached the quarter-finals in his Wimbledon debut in 2014, will next face 16th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime. Their only previous ATP Head2Head meeting came down to the wire, with Auger-Aliassime rallying to win 6-7(4), 7-6(3) 7-5 at The Queen’s Club in 2019.

The match against Mager had all the hallmarks of a classic Kyrgios encounter: big serving interspersed with smart underarm serves to break up the returner’s rhythm, as well as a constant dialogue between the Aussie and his vocal fans at No. 3 Court.

“Obviously the fan base is awesome. I think the people are just excited to see tennis again, at the end of the day,” he said. “Like crowds seeing Wimbledon, it didn’t seem half capacity like the crowds I played in front of. Yesterday against Humbert full, that stadium full. Pretty cool.”

Kyrgios rallied those fans as Mager saved four break points across his third and fourth service games to keep pace with the big-hitting Aussie. He was in danger in the tie-break as Mager charged ahead to a 5/2 lead and held set point at 6/5. But Kyrgios stayed with his game plan, keeping the rallies short and firing big first serves to draw level before a forced error from Mager clinched him the set.

World No. 60 Kyrgios didn’t face a break point in the match and he found an even higher level in the second and third sets. He won 89 per cent of first-serve points (17/19) in the second set to keep Mager under pressure, and claimed the decisive break at 1-1. Mager continued to fight, firing 17 aces of his own in the match, but he couldn’t halt Kyrgios’ momentum as the Aussie broke his serve once more at 2-2 in the third.

Kyrgios fired back-to-back aces to set up match point before serving out the victory, delighting fans on No. 3 Court who sang his name to the tune of Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Let’s Get Physical’ in celebration. 

“I feel like when [fans] come to my matches now, they know how I am,” Kyrgios said. “I’m quite lighthearted. They know it’s a bit of a show. They just want entertainment at the end of the day. Like a couple screaming out asking normal questions about Tottenham Hotspur. It’s a bit odd. It’s crazy out there.”

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On No. 2 Court, 16th seed Auger-Aliassime celebrated Canada Day with a hard fought victory. He needed four sets to pass a stern test from No.98-ranked Mikael Ymer, prevailing 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-1 after two hours and 38 minutes. 

“I saw a few Canadian flags. That’s always good to see,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Canada Day always falls during Wimbledon. The last two times I’ve gotten a win on that day, so hopefully it will bring me luck over the rest of my career.”

The 20-year-old Canadian struck 51 winners – including 19 aces – and came to the net 45 times in the match, winning 71 per cent of those points. He kept Ymer on the move as the Swede rallied from the baseline, earning 28 unforced errors as a result. 

Auger-Aliassime rallied after narrowly dropping the second set. He raised his level in the third, winning five of his six service games at the expense of just one point and edging through in the tie-break. The 16th seed cruised in the final set, breaking twice more to book a third-round meeting with Kyrgios. 

“[Kyrgios] is an amazing player. We played in Queen’s two years ago, almost tie-breaks every set,” Auger-Aliassime said. “He has everything that a player needs to play well, especially on grass. He serves amazingly. 

“It’s going to be a tough match for me. Nick is a great player, a great entertainer. I think he’s good for tennis. He seems focused and playing well the last few matches.”

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