Dimitrov defeats Kyrgios to reach quarter-finals of Australian Open
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov ended home hopes of a first men’s champion in 42 years with victory over Nick Kyrgios at the Australian Open.
Third seed Dimitrov, 26, won 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (7-4) in a gripping night-session contest in Melbourne.
He goes on to face Britain’s Kyle Edmund in the last eight on Tuesday.
“Playing against Nick is always tricky, two weeks ago I lost against him. He was serving unbelievably, playing unbelievably,” said Dimitrov.
“He fought really hard and it’s one of those matches you have to take any opportunity you have.
“Even serving for the match I felt it wasn’t over. I am just glad to get through that match.”
Kyrgios paid tribute to his opponent, who he believes could go on to lift a first Grand Slam title next Sunday.
“It was a tough match – I knew it would be,” said the 22-year-old.
“He hasn’t found his best form yet, and he is still getting through all these matches, which is frightening.
“Once he finds his feet and gets more confidence, he has a real chance of winning. Sometimes I think he lacks a bit of belief. He’s got the game so hopefully he can believe in himself and he can go all the way.”
The meeting of last year’s semi-finalist and the home favourite had been much anticipated, and it lived up to the billing.
Dimitrov found the form that almost defeated Rafael Nadal 12 months ago as he built a two-set lead thanks to two high-quality tie-breaks.
The Bulgarian took the first after a dart to the net and a big cross-court forehand brought up three set points, and 17th seed Kyrgios could only double fault.
Dimitrov then took a grip on proceedings at 4-3 in the second set with the first break of the match after a loose Kyrgios game, but played a poor game when trying to serve it out and the Australian converted his first break point after an hour and a half.
Dimitrov v Kyrgios stats
A second tie-break followed and again it was Dimitrov who took the initiative, skipping around his backhand to fire a forehand winner at 4-4 that set him on his way.
The Bulgarian had a chance to grab a potentially decisive break early in the third but it passed him by, and when he sent a forehand wide to drop serve it invigorated Kyrgios and the home crowd.
With his serve now in a groove, Kyrgios powered through the third set and saved two break points at the start of the fourth, one of them with a blistering second-serve ace.
After clawing his way back into contention, Kyrgios appeared to have given the match away when he inexplicably netted a smash to fall 5-3 behind.
However, a rasping backhand winner prevented Dimitrov from serving out the match and a third tie-break would be required.
It was Kyrgios who buckled, netting a forehand with the court wide open at 3-3, and Dimitrov suffered no repeat of his earlier wobble as he clinched victory with a brilliant forehand winner.
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