Talent On Tap, Kyrgios Turns It On
Nick Kyrgios has rallied from a set down for the second straight match to move into the semi-finals of the Brisbane International. The richly talented Australian dropped the first set against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov before stepping up his intensity to win 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Far from being concerned about his sluggish start, Kyrgios said that he is reassured by his ability to raise his game when it counts. "As bad as it is to say, it's kind of like a tap. I can turn it on when I want to," he told reporters after the match.
In his opening match, the third seed sneaked past countryman Matthew Ebden 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-2. Against Dolgopolov he played casually at times in the opening set but when he narrowed his focus in the last two sets he had too much game for his opponent.
World No. 21 Kyrgios broke Dolgopolov for a 4-3 lead in the third set to claim the match-winning break. He fired 18 aces, clubbed 27 winners but sprayed 36 unforced errors.
“I'm feeling pretty good,” said Kyrgios. “I'm hitting the ball well and I'm serving really well. So the first two matches of the year, I've got through two, tough three-setters. The only positive I can say about losing that first set is I'm putting myself in some pressure situation and getting some more court time out there, which is good… I've got to try and maintain as much energy as I can. Obviously, it's great to do well here.”
Kyrgios, whose career-high ATP Ranking is No. 13, is 605 points behind World No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta. With just 135 points to defend between now and early March (when last year he reached the Acapulco semi-finals), a strong showing in Australia could put the Canberra resident on track to break into the Top 10 for the first time in his career.
Earlier in the day, 18-year-old Australian wild card Alex De Minaur, who won just two tour-level matches in 2017, charged into the semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-0 win over American qualifier Michael Mmoh. Both players are likely to contend for places at November's Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.
De Minaur, who in the second round stunned former World No. 3 Milos Raonic, next plays American Ryan Harrison, who was leading 7-6(6), 4-2 when Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin retired after one hour and 36 minutes of play.
“It was a very nervous match,” De Minaur admitted. “Lots of different thoughts and emotions going through before that match… thinking that there's a good opportunity for me. So it was a very sort of nervy first set, and then I felt like I let go a bit, got a little bit looser, and played some of my best tennis.”
Asked to describe how he feels to be in his first ATP World Tour semi-final, De Minaur said, “Well, I reckon the best way to describe this is at the moment: I'm in this really good dream and I really don't want to wake up.”
Harrison, who is coached full-time by former pro Michael Russell, was delighted by his run to the semi-final, saying, “I’ve worked hard during the off-season, so I’m pleased to have some quick results in the first set."