Nick Kyrgios roared back from a “frustrating” first set on Thursday night to reach the quarter-finals of the Japan Open, defeating Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Despite his slow start, the maverick Australian emerged victorious in typical crowd-pleasing style, showing off with 22 aggressive aces and some exaggeratedly effortless points.
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The 27-year-old, who was knocked out in the last eight at the US Open, said despite Majchrzak breaking his serve, there was “never really doubt in my mind that I was going to win”.
“I’ve barely been broken all year,” so when “the opponent doesn’t really do much to break me it’s quite frustrating,” he said after the 1h 21min match.
“I was just not playing the right way — the court’s very fast,” Kyrgios added.
But by being “a bit more aggressive” in the second and third sets, the world number 20 said he “ended up just weathering the storm and then coming through”.
“I’ve got really good confidence in my game right now. So I don’t really doubt myself, even when I’m down a set … firing Grand Slams has given me that confidence.”
It was a mixed performance for Kyrgios, who hit 43 winners but also made 19 unforced errors.
He has now made the quarterfinals in nine out of the 13 tournaments he has played this year, and is the only player to win at least one match at every tournament he has contested.
Kyrgios will face third-seeded American Taylor Fritz in the quarter-finals.
Fritz beat Japanese player Hiroki Moriya 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, with the crowd rooting for their home favourite right until the end of the nearly two-hour match.
Japan’s Rio Noguchi also crashed out of the tournament after being trampled 6-3, 6-1 by Canadian Denis Shapovalov, while Borna Coric of Croatia beat American Brandon Nakashima 7-5, 6-2.
Kyrgios is also playing doubles alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis and they have cruised into the semi-finals after winning their first two matches in straight sets.
The Aussie Special Ks will take on Mackenzie McDonald and Marcelo Melo in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Kyrgios said he finds singles more stressful but playing doubles has several benefits.
“Tennis is stressful as hell in singles, you try to hold yourself in such high accountability every single time and you could be out here for three hours and it’s exhausting and so serious, playing doubles with Thanasi brings that fun element back,” he said after the win over Majchrzak.
“But at the same time it’s my job, I need to make money and that’s how I do it so I play both events.
“I mean towards the end I played lights out, I forgot really how fast this court is and how big you can play on it so I started playing the right way. Play more aggressive like stop trying to rally and just trying to hit winners from everywhere.”