Australian Open: Sharapova, Bouchard and Nadal through to quarters
MELBOURNE, Australia — He upset Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, and followed up Sunday by beating the guy who ousted Roger Federer at the Australian Open. Next up for Nick Kyrgios is a quarterfinal against Andy Murray at Melbourne Park.
It’s about to get very noisy on Rod Laver Arena.
The 19-year-old Kyrgios came back from two sets down and saved a match point to beat Andreas Seppi 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 8-6, becoming the first Australian man to reach the last eight in the national championship since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005, and the first male teenager since Federer in 2001 to reach two Grand Slam quarterfinals.
He was on a secondary court for his night match, and his first words to a crowd that had chanted and screamed like football fans: "Thanks mate. Feels so good."
Murray, a two-time Grand Slam champion and three-time Australian Open finalist, overcame racket-smashing Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-5 to secure a spot in the last eight at his 16th consecutive major.
In a 3-hour, 32-minute minute match filled with stunning shots from both players, Murray rallied from 2-5 down in the fourth set to close out against the 23-year-old Bulgarian who has been dubbed "Baby Fed" by those who compare his style with Federer’s.
Seppi beat Federer in the third round — the 17-time Grand Slam winner’s earliest exit at the Australian Open in 14 years — and was right on course to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in 40 majors when he had match point in the fourth set.
That’s when Kyrgios said his own experience kicked in: he’d come back from two sets down at Wimbledon — he saved nine match points in the second round against Richard Gasquet — where he also beat then-No. 1 Nadal in the fourth round en route to the quarterfinals.
"It’s crazy," he said. "When I saw I had finally won the match it was incredible — it was the best feeling I ever had. It’s just massive confidence."
Nadal and Maria Sharapova put earlier stumbles in Melbourne behind them with convincing fourth-round wins.
No.2-ranked Sharapova won the last eight games of her 6-3, 6-0 victory over No. 21-seeded Peng Shuai, advancing her to a showdown with Eugenie Bouchard.
Seventh-seeded Bouchard won nine of the first 10 games against Irina-Camelia Begu, but lost seven of the next nine. After serving a double-fault on set point to end the second, Bouchard took a short break before returning to complete a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win.
"I gave myself a good, long hard look in the mirror," Bouchard said. "I said, `Genie, this is unacceptable.’ I really kind of kicked myself in the butt a little bit."
Momentum in Nadal’s 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 win over towering Kevin Anderson swung on two games at the end of the first set. Nadal fended off five break points to hold, and then broke the 2.03-meter-tall (6-foot-8) South African’s serve to trigger his winning roll. He will next face No. 7 Tomas Berdych, who had a 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-2 win over Bernard Tomic.
Nadal, who won the Australian Open in 2009 and lost the finals in 2012 and last year, is coming off an extended injury layoff and says he’s building as he goes — thankful he got through a tough five-setter in the second round against U.S. qualifier Tim Smyczek.
"The chance to be in the quarterfinals after a tough period of time for me is a fantastic result," Nadal said. "I was playing better than the days before. The way that I improved my level is not the most important thing; obviously the victory is."
Sharapova, coming off a win in the season-opening tournament in Brisbane, had a hiccup in the second round here when she had to save match points against Russian qualifier Alexandra Panova.
"I feel like something or someone gave me another chance," Sharapova said. "Getting to the quarters is really special."
Bouchard made the semis or better at the first three Grand Slam tournaments last year, losing to Sharapova in the French Open semifinals.
Sharapova noted that Bouchard was the most consistent player at recent Grand Slams.
"She’s playing really well, confident tennis. So aggressive," Sharapova said. "I have a tough match ahead of me, but I always look forward to that."
French Open finalist Simona Halep beat Yanina Wickmayer 6-4, 6-2 to set up a quarterfinal against No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova, who had a 6-3, 6-2 win over Julia Goerges.