Nick Kyrgios roared back from a “frustrating” first set yesterday 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 aggressive aces and some exaggeratedly effortless points.
The 27-year-old, who was knocked out in the last eight at the US Open, said that 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.”
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.
Earlier in the day, Frances Tiafoe came through a second set battle to secure his spot in the quarter-finals, saying he wasn’t bothered by rising expectations.
The 24-year-old American, who has been in the spotlight since beating Rafael Nadal on the way to a first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open last month, overcame Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-1, 7-6 (9/7).
Nick Kyrgios of Australia hits a return against Kamil Majchrzak of Poland during their Japan Open match in Tokyo yesterday. (AFP)