Nick Kyrgios' love affair with John Cain Arena continued on Friday night, with the Aussie at the centre of some spine-tingling early scenes against Dominic Thiem.
Much had been made of the fact that the match between Kyrgios and the World No.3 was being played on the Aussie's favourite court and not Rod Laver Arena or Margaret Court Arena.
'MAJESTIC': Naomi Osaka's moment with butterfly melts hearts
BARTY WORRIES: World No.1's withdrawal fuels Aus Open injury fears
'OH MY GOD': Australian Open interview angers tennis world
The atmosphere inside John Cain Arena was electric, with fans no doubt hoping for a repeat of the thrilling five-set marathon Kyrgios won against Ugo Humbert in the second round.
It was clear from the onset that Kyrgios' game plan was to channel as much energy from the crowd as possible, against a man regarded as one of the fittest and most physical in the sport.
It didn't take Kyrgios long to make the most of his 'home court advantage' as the Aussie pounced on Thiem's opening service game.
Every point that Kyrgios won in the opening game was greeted with an increasingly loud roar as the 25-year-old came exploding out of the blocks.
When Kyrgios immediately managed to break Thiem, the noise was almost deafening as the Aussie star encouraged supporters to cheer even louder.
The incredible early scenes left fans in a frenzy on social media.
— Samuel Begg - Tennis (@samuelbegg) February 12, 2021
Thiem broken in the first game and Kyrgios rallies the crowd. This could be manic. #AusOpen
— Scott Smith (@scotty2smithy) February 12, 2021
OMG Kyrgios just broke Thiem in the first game. Let’s go.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) February 12, 2021
Kyrgios breaks in the first game and the crowd goes nuts 😊😊 #AusOpen
— Matt (@Mattys123) February 12, 2021
Kyrgios vs Thiem gonna be 🔥. Crowd will play a huge factor in this. #AusOpen
— Albert (@Albertg34) February 12, 2021
The crowd and Kyrgios fired up like he'd won a set. Up an early, important break. This has a special feeling about it already.
— Alxalix (@GarinsForehand) February 12, 2021
Thiem is up against it tonight. Kyrgios will be focused and the crowd will make the most of their last night out. This is like an NBA road Game 7 for Thiem.
— Mike Diddy (@Nova_Diddy) February 12, 2021
— Keisha Rashford (@_royalminnie) February 12, 2021
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) February 12, 2021
Thiem steadied himself after the first game hiccup and rarely looked troubled on serve during the rest of the opening set.
With Kyrgios' serve firing on all cylinders, the Aussie set up a chance to serve for the first set at 5-4 up.
With a wicked serve out wide to the Thiem forehand, followed by an authoritative volley, the home favourite clinched the opening set to spark celebratory scenes.
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) February 12, 2021
The second set went on serves until the ninth game when Kyrgios once again ramped up the pressure on Thiem's racquet.
Twice the Austrian staved off break points but it was a third time lucky for Kyrgios as the Aussie set up a chance to serve for a two-sets-to-love lead.
Kyrgios signalled his intent with a booming ace down the centre to kick things off, before finishing off Thiem with an underarm service ace to take the second set in dramatic fashion.
Victoria Covid outbreak wreaks havoc
While Kyrgios was drawing plenty of energy off the crowd inside John Cain Arena on Friday night, it could be the last time the Aussie enjoys the sensation.
Victorian Premier Daniels Andrews announced on Friday that fans would be banned from attending the Australian Open for five days, starting on Saturday.
A COVID-19 outbreak connected to the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport has grown to 13 cases, forcing Andrews to put the city back into a five-day lockdown.
That means fans will be locked out of Melbourne Park, where the Australian Open is being held, from Saturday until Wednesday.
Spectators were still allowed to attend matches on Friday, including Kyrgios' third round showdown with World No.3 Thiem, however, Australian Open officials said they would have to leave by 11:30pm.
It means that Kyrgios would have to go on a deep run at the Australian Open to have any chance of once again enjoying the support of his raucous home fans.
“Venues hosting professional sporting competitions can open, with essential staff attending to ensure the safe running of the event,” Mr Andrews said.
“(Sporting events) will function essentially as a workplace. But they will not function as an entertainment event.
“These rules come into effect at 11.59. Not just from ‘that’ event but for all the rules that I’ve mentioned.
“But I would be encouraging people … just to use common sense and as much discretion, erring on the side of ‘let’s do everything we can to make this five days – and no longer than that’. So if you don’t have to go out tonight, then don’t.
“AFLW or ‘that event’ or any number of other large and small professional sport events, they will function essentially as a workplace. They will not function as an entertainment event because there will be no crowds – and the workforce will be the minimum that is needed in order for that to be COVID safe and safe in lots of other contexts.”
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.