Nick Kyrgios admitted his head went to some ‘dark’ places before he rallied to complete a wild five-set victory over Frenchman Ugo Humbert and win his way through to the Australian Open’s third round.
The fiery 25-year-old smashed his racquet after dropping the first set, and looked all but done for when Ugo worked his way to two match points in the fourth set.
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But Kyrgios saved both and eventually claimed the fourth set after going down 4-5, forcing a fifth which he won in decisive fashion for a 5-7 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 victory.
Admitting that he’d feared facing the media if he lost to Humbert, a nonetheless buoyant Kyrgios fronted a press conference after the match keen to praise both the crowd and his opponent.
“I was afraid to come into this room, you know,” he said.
“(Afraid to) go to my Airbnb and just read about it and take it all in, take all the negativity in that I have already taken.
“It's not easy to come back and try and put it all behind. I have been through a lot, and I didn't just put my hand in a lucky dip and disappear.”
The world No.47, who has won eight of his last nine five-set matches, said he and his physio agreed after the game that it was one of his most memorable.
“He's seen me tank matches, play epic five-setters, everything, and that was still one of the most crazy matches for both of us,” he said.
“We've seen it all, but that was insane.
“The stadium definitely didn't feel half full, that's for sure.”
Nick Kyrgios wins through to Australian Open third round
Kyrgios had kind words for Humbert, who he rated one of the better up-and-coming-players on tour.
"I hope he doesn't take it too hard on himself either. He played a hell of a match. He's going to be really good."
For his part, Kyrgios said he did get the sense that something special could unravel when he broke back in the fourth set.
"There was a moment ... I was, like, 'dude, this could be one of the most memorable matches of your career and you owe it to yourself'," he said.
Kyrgios is prepared for a physical match when he meets 2020 finalist Dominic Thiem for a spot in the last 16.
"I have a lot of respect for him. I think his style of tennis is not easy to play. He's super physical," he said of Thiem.
"But I'm not even thinking about it. I'm hurting just thinking about playing him right now."
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