As Melbourne prepares for a five-day lockdown, fans got their last taste of live tennis for now, and what a game it was.
In arguably the most difficult of Grand Slam circumstances, last year’s runner-up Dominic Thiem produced a comeback for the ages as he recovered from a two-set deficit to seal a memorable five-set victory over Nick Kyrgios.
Thiem came into the game having yet to drop a set following straight set victories over Mikhail Kukushkin and Dominik Koepfer in the first and second rounds respectively.
But it was Kyrgios who got off to a dream start in his native land, as the Australian took advantage of the home-crowd’s support to take a two-set lead.
Kyrgios was involved in a five-setter in the second round against Ugo Humbert, and little did he know he would be faced with another one days later.
Thiem, the third seed at the tournament, got his electrifying serve in order and proved too hot for the home-town favourite to handle. The final score finished 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in favour of the reigning US Open champion.
In quite the affair, the numbers were fairly balanced as Thiem won just 10 more points than Kyrgios over the course of the game. Despite Kyrgios recording more aces and a higher win percentage on first serve, Thiem was more clinical in the final three sets, especially with his win percentage on second serve.
Kyrgios grew frustrated after his two-set lead was nullified, as he was seen muttering “What the f*** are you doing?” to himself, as well as receiving a code violation for unsportsmanlike behaviour.
In the fourth set, Kyrgios grew even more furious, as he told the umpire to tell the the crowd to “shut up” following the continuous noise during a point.
But while Kyrgios continued to complain about circumstances out of his control, Thiem did his job and concluded an unforgettable comeback with a majestic backhand down the line to wrap up the win.
Having lost one stage worse than he did last season, Kyrgios exits the first Grand Slam of the year with work to do ahead of the rest of the ATP season.
Thiem thus progresses to the fourth round of this year’s Australian Open, and will go up against his first seeded opponent in Grigor Dimitrov.