Nick Kyrgios storms into China Open quarter-finals
Nick Kyrgios has revealed his motivation for atoning for the worst performance of his career after storming into the quarter-finals of the China Open in Beijing.
The Australian recovered from a loose start to see off German serve-volleyer Mischa Zverev 3-6 6-2 6-2 in their second-round clash on Wednesday.
It was against Zverev last year that Kyrgios infamously tanked at the Shanghai Masters, drawing widespread condemnation from the tennis world and an eight-week ban from the ATP Tour.
The suspension was reduced to three weeks after Kyrgios agreed to undergo counselling.
Tennis Channel commentators again wondered “how dialled in” Kyrgios was in the return bout 12 months on as the mercurial youngster yawned his way through the opening set.
He received a code violation for smashing his racquet in disgust after gifting the German a one-set advantage. But, looking disinterested, Kyrgios should not have been surprised to be behind early.
Seemingly in second gear, he barely even bothered to sit down at one changeover, rushing to other end of the court instead to casually hit balls to himself against the back board. Other times he sang at the changeover as he slouched in his chair like he was ready for an afternoon snooze.
But Kyrgios said it was important to dig deep after his last lame showing against the German.
“I just wanted to prove to myself how much I have improved,” the 22-year-old said.
“I knew it was going to be tough. He plays a very old-school type of tennis, likes to come forward a lot. I got broken early in the first. Then I kind of knew I had to loosen up and find my rhythm a little bit.”
Kyrgios emerged from his slumber to race through the second set with two service breaks and maintained the intensity to roar ahead 3-0 in the decider.
Facing a rankings dip if he lost after winning the Japan Open during the corresponding week last year, Kyrgios refused to let-up after seizing control.
He brought up match point with a smash and finished Zverev off with a ferocious off-forehand winner to advance after one hour and 22 minutes.
“I started serving much better, started just relaxing,” Kyrgios said. “I knew I was going to feel pretty comfortable at some stage out there. Obviously, just really happy to get through.”
Nick Kyrgios on court in Beijing.
In progressing to his sixth quarter-final of the year, Kyrgios hammered 11 aces and dropped only three points on serve in a dominant deciding set.
Kyrgios next faces Steve Darcis – a fortnight after beating the Belgian in Davis Cup in Brussels – for a spot in the semi-finals, where Zverev’s second-seeded brother Alexander could be waiting.