Krygios exits Australian Open
Nick Krygios' 2021 Australian Open campaign is over, following a five set epic against world number three Domenic Thiem at John Cain Arena on Friday night.
The 25 year old Aussie led two sets to love in a barnstorming start, only to be run down by the gutsy Austrian, who won 4-6 4-6 6-3, 6-4 6-4.
This was Kyrgios' second consecutive five-setter at 10,500-capacity John Cain Arena; in the previous round, he erased two match points en route to eliminating No. 29 Ugo Humbert.
Thiem, last year's runner-up, will play 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round.
Spectators will not be allowed to attend Melbourne Park until after the lockdown is scheduled to finish at midnight on Wednesday.
Having already been on court for almost three hours, Kyrgios and Thiem went toe-to-toe in the deciding fifth set, with a spot in the last 16 on the line.
Neither player looked like dropping serve until the seventh game. Thiem earned a break point, which Kyrgios saved, but the Austrian converted on a second to establish a 4-3 lead.
The 47th-ranked Kyrgios, playing his second consecutive five-set match, lost his cool at the change of ends, as he bickered with chair umpire Damien Dumusois.
But he showed class when he congratulated Thiem on a brilliant forehand that saw his opponent move 5-3 ahead.
After Kyrgios held serve in the next game, Thiem closed out the match when serving at 5-4, punctuating his victory with a sensational backhand winner.
"Giving up is never an option," Thiem said after the match.
"There is always a chance. But I was fighting still, and then with the break (of serve) in the third set, I realised that maybe there's a chance to turn it around.
Kyrgios immediately made his presence felt by breaking Thiem's serve in the opening game of the match, much to the delight of the parochial crowd.
The break proved decisive, as Kyrgios did not drop a service game on his way to claiming the first set in 37 minutes.
Kyrgios still berated himself at times despite his early dominance, and praised Thiem more than once on the effectiveness of his groundstrokes.
The second set proved to be an arm wrestle, with games going on serve until Thiem cracked at 4-4.
He saved two break points but on a third he produced a mistimed forehand return, allowing Kyrgios to shift ahead 5-4 to serve for the set.
Kyrgios made no mistake, even cheekily using an underarm serve to record an ace to ice the set win.
The reigning US Open champion was fortunate not to dig himself further down a hole in the opening game of the third set when he faced two break points, saving both as he served his way out of danger to hold.
But Thiem was able to turn the pressure back onto his opponent in the following game. He broke Kyrgios for the first time in the match and then held serve to lead 3-0.
Thiem went on to win the set and claw his way back into the contest.
The turning point of the fourth set came in the ninth game with the score locked at 4-4. Thiem converted on his third break point and he was now one game away from the levelling the match at two sets apiece.
Kyrgios attracted a point penalty for ball abuse at the end of the game, meaning he was already 0-15 down when Thiem stepped up to serve for the set.
Remarkably, Kyrgios regained his focus and fought his way to earn a break point, but Thiem responded and forced a deciding fifth set that he would ultimately go on to win.
It leaves Alex De Minaur as Australia's only male hopeful heading in to the second week, the 21 year old to face Italian Fabio Fognini in his third round match on Saturday.
Ash Barty, who withdrew from her doubles match on Friday is under an injury cloud for her match against Russian number 29 Ekaterina Alexandrova tomorrow evening at Margaret Court Arena.
IMAGE: The Guardian.