Australian Open: Kyrgios downs Simon, Zverev marches on

Nick Kyrgios got past Gilles Simon, while Alexander Zverev earned a routine win over Egor Gerasimov to advance to the third round of the Australian Open.

Local hope Nick Kyrgios will either face Russian 16th seed Karen Khachanov or Sweden’s Mikael Ymer in the third round of the Australian Open.   -  Getty Images

Showman Nick Kyrgios blasted Frenchman Gilles Simon off court at the Australian Open Thursday, with his talent shining through in front of an adoring home crowd.

The 24-year-old had the measure of the veteran early on then lost concentration and became agitated before refocusing to win 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 on his favoured Melbourne Arena.

It set up a third-round clash with either Russian 16th seed Karen Khachanov or Sweden’s Mikael Ymer, with the winner of that match on course to meet world number one Rafael Nadal in round four.

“I definitely lost my way a little bit... but I decided to refocus,” Kyrgios said of his mini-meltdown in the third set.

“I could have gone to a very dark place in the fourth set but I put it away.”

A seemingly more mature Kyrgios has spoken of how the bushfire crisis in his homeland has given him perspective and focus, and that he felt he was playing for the nation rather than just himself.

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And with the roars of the crowd ringing in his ears, he broke the Frenchman in the first game and consolidated by holding serve. Kyrgios looked sharp and broke again for 5-2 then served out the set, sending down five aces and, crucially, making only two unforced errors.

Simon was struggling with his serve and the Australian broke again for a 1-0 lead in the second set, making some big shots when it counted. It went with serve before Kyrgios, watched again by his ATP Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt, won the set with another rocket serve.

He broke Simon again early in the third set, letting out a huge “C’mon!” But the Frenchman broke back as Kyrgios started to lose concentration in game eight, berating himself and gesturing to his box as frustrations kicked in.

He lost the set as his focus drifted and he yelled at his box: “Of all the things you could say, ‘Stay tough’ Thanks man, thanks. That’s what I get, every break point, ‘Stay tough’ Wow.”

But the Australian conquered his mental demons to regroup, getting a crucial break to go 6-5 up in the fourth and completing victory with a big ace, his 28th of the match.

- Zverev advances -

Alexander Zverev showed signs of a return to form as he downed Egor Gerasimov 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 7-5.

The German seventh seed has been practising up to seven hours a day after a winless ATP Cup and the hard work paid off as he safely reached the third round.

“Definitely much better than the ATP Cup. Now in the third round, I’m very happy about that,” said the 22-year-old, who beat Italy’s Marco Cecchinato in the first round.

Alexander Zverev has been practising up to seven hours a day after a winless ATP Cup and the hard work paid off as he safely reached the third round of the Australian Open.   -  Getty Images

 

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The 6ft 6ins (198cm) Zverev sent down so many double faults at the ATP Cup that Belinda Bencic suggested he donate to Australia’s bushfires appeal for each one.

But his serve, a key focus of his extended practices, was a weapon once again on Thursday as he fired nine aces against no double faults, with a first-serve percentage of 78 percent.

“Sometimes it’s difficult, sometimes it’s easy,” Zverev said when asked what it was like trying to rediscover form. “The last week or so when we were practising, we were spending six or seven hours a day on court trying all kinds of things to find my game.”

Zverev will next play Fernando Verdasco or Nikoloz Basilashvili as he attempts to match his best Australian Open result after reaching the round of 16 last year.

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