Nick Kyrgios has booked a semi-final showdown with the rejuvenated Roger Federer at the Miami Open after seeing off fellow young gun Alexander Zverev for the second time in two weeks.
Australian 12th seed Kyrgios required six match points against the 19-year-old German, prevailing 6-4 6-7 (9-11) 6-3 at Key Biscayne.
After world No.20 Zverev refused to yield in an enthralling second-set tiebreak, Kyrgios rallied to break serve in the sixth game of the third set before taking victory in two-and-a-half hours.
Kyrgios sent down 16 aces to Zverev’s three in their second career meeting, having also won their maiden encounter at Indian Wells.
Kyrgios also hit 34 winners to 21, including a between-the-legs shot to win a point in the opening game of the second set.
However, Kyrgios’ bag of trick shots let him down in the second-set tiebreaker, netting a between-the-legs ‘tweener’ shot to hand Zverev the set.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” Kyrgios said.
Despite signs of frustration from the players during the tense final set, which included both chastising the chair umpire and lines judges, Kyrgios appeared to appreciate the Zverev challenge.
The 21-year-old posted to Facebook a photo of the pair embracing after the match, saying, “And there will be many more of those to come.”
On Twitter he posted a video of the final point and post-match embrace adding, “Let’s hug it out, mate. @NickKyrgios #MiamiOpen”.
Kyrgios is looking forward to facing Federer – the reigning Australian Open winner and two-time champion at Key Biscayne – after he withdrew from their scheduled Indian Wells quarter-final a fortnight ago with a virus.
“He’s my favourite player, so I’m going to enjoy the moment,” Kyrgios said of Federer, who is 17-1 this year.
“He’s the greatest of all time. We don’t know how long he’s going to hang around so it’s a blessing.”
On his match-up with Kyrgios Federer said in his on-court interview: “You all should tune in if you’re not in the stadium.”
Federer, the 35-year-old winner of 18 grand slam titles, fought off two match points before beating No.10 seed Tomas Berdych 6-2 3-6 7-6 (8-6) in their quarter-final.
“I’m happy today to have come through somehow,” Federer said.
“I definitely got very lucky at the end. But I think I showed great heart today.”
Fourth-seed Federer was serving for the match at 5-3 and got broken, had a match point in the next game and couldn’t convert, then was down 6-4 in the breaker before winning the final four points.
Federer looked set for another emphatic victory after taking the first set but the second set is where things started going awry.
He needed only 26 minutes to take the first set before Berdych found his stride. Federer broke for 4-2 in the third, was serving for the match at 5-3 and got broken to love, then let a match point get away.
But Federer held on and was handed the victory when Berdych double faulted.
“Sick atmosphere,” Federer told the crowd afterward. “Thanks for making it very special.”
In the bottom half of the draw, unseeded Italian Fabio Fognini will face Spain’s fifth-seed Rafael Nadal for a spot in the final.