Kyrgios faces stern test at Wimbledon

Darren Walton
Nick Kyrgios faces a big test against the strong backhand of Japan's Kei Nishokori at Wimbledon

The "best backhand in the world" stands between Nick Kyrgios and his now customary place in the business week at Wimbledon.

Kyrgios plays Kei Nishokori on Saturday bidding to make the last 16 at The All England Club for the fourth time in five years.

The Australian's only blemish came last year when a hip injury curtailed his campaign in the first round.

While a warm favourite to again advance, Kyrgios knows he must up the ante from his first two matches, relatively cruisy encounters against Denis Istomin and Robin Haase.

"Kei is a guy I've never had a win against before. Incredibly tough," said the 15th seed.

"Grass is probably his least favourite surface, but he's capable on all surfaces. He's a nightmare. He's a great returner. Takes time away."

Bernard Tomic learnt as much on Thursday, when the Japanese superstar reversed two straight losses to Kyrgios's countryman with a four-set win to rob fans of a much-anticipated all-Australian third-round encounter.

"Kei's an unbelievable player," Tomic said in a warning to Kyrgios, even if he hardly needs reminding after losing to Nishikori in all three previous meetings, two on hard court and once on clay.

"Best backhand in the world, he returns (among the) top three in the world and he's serving good. He's serving a lot better now.

"He's playing well and is a world-class player.

"This is a maybe a slam he hasn't done well at. He's only reached the fourth round a couple of times but I think if he plays good like this he can go deep."

Nishikori has claimed the underdog card against a player boasting 159 aces in his past six matches.

'He is such a big server and I don't know how much I can return his serve," he said.

"But I believe that I would have chance to win if I could bring many points into long exchanges and rallies.

"His groundstrokes are not as big as his serve and he is a type of player that plays a little bit more carefully in rallies."

Kyrgios accepts he must control his emotions in order to survive what shapes as his sternest test yet of his title credentials.

"It's hard for me to find the balance sometimes," he said after receiving a code violation for swearing against Haase and who also engaged in a running verbal battle with officials.

"When I'm in a calm place with a lot of energy, I think that's when I play my best tennis.

"Yeah, it could help my game."

A breakthrough win over Nishikori, the 24th seed this year, would leave Kyrgios facing either German fourth seed Alexander Zverev or big-hitting Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis for a quarter-final berth.