For the second straight night, the crowd at Melbourne Park had the opportunity to enjoy a thrilling tennis match that went down to the wire. After Roger Federer and John Millman who battled for four hours and three minutes on Friday, Nick Kyrgios and Karen Khachanov stayed on the court for even longer, with the home star celebrating a 6-2, 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 7-6 triumph in four hours and 26 minutes, prevailing in the match tie break 10-8 to secure the place in the fourth round where he plays against world no.
1 Rafael Nadal! Playing a marathon for the second time in three days, Karen fended off a match point in both sets three and four, giving his 120% and pushing Kyrgios to the limits before finally falling in the deciding tie break, propelling the Aussie into the last 16 for the third time.
It was the encounter with 54 aces and many brilliant points on both sides that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats from start to finish. Nick won just six points more overall in a thriller that saw them at the net around 120 times, with three breaks from six opportunities for Kyrgios and only one for Khachanov in the entire match, standing firm despite that and almost finishing in front of the Aussie.
It was all about Nick in the first set, serving well and delivering back-to-back breaks that carried him towards 6-2 despite some problems with his leg that required a medical timeout. Finding his range in set number two, Karen started to play much better and on the level terms with his rival, reaching the tie break after they both squandered one break chance that Kyrgios grabbed 7-5 with two mini-breaks, taking another big step towards the triumph.
Trailing 4-2 in the third set, the Russian bounced back with a break in game eight that gave him momentum, saving a match point at 5-6 in the tie break to steal it 8-6 and get his name on the scoreboard ahead of set number four.
There, Nick fended off two break chances in the seventh game and had another match point at 7-6, denied by Karen who clinched the breaker 9-7 and forced the deciding set after a heroic resistance. Tired but not beaten, Nick and Karen delivered 12 powerful holds in the fifth set to set up the deciding match tie break where Khachanov grabbed a mini-break for an 8-7 advantage, moving two points away from the victory.
Instead of that, Kyrgios gathered all the confidence and boost, winning three points in a row to seal the deal and emerge at the top in what has been one of the matches of his career so far.