Acapulco - Australia's
Nick Kyrgios survived three match points to beat top-seeded Rafael
Nadal 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (8/6) on Wednesday and reach the
quarter-finals of the Mexico Open.
It was a bravura finish to a drama-filled match in which Nadal,
playing his first tournament since falling to Novak Djokovic in the
Australian Open final, had three chances to close it out after taking a
6-3 lead in the third-set tiebreaker.
Kyrgios saved the first with a leaping drop shot, and the second with a net-skimming volley.
Nadal was just wide with a passing shot to make it 6-6,
double-faulted to give Kyrgios a chance and sailed a backhand long to
end the match after three hours and three minutes.
Kyrgios screamed and dropped to the court in celebration a
conclusion that seemed unlikely when he complained to a trainer after
the opening set that he was feeling ill but feared the fallout should he
Kyrgios steeled himself to continue, and distractions seemed
forgotten as he became absorbed in the battle against the 17-time Grand
Down 0-40 in the ninth game of the second set, Kyrgios saved four
break points to keep the set on serve and raced to a 5-0 lead in the
Kyrgios, who received treatment on his lower back before the start of
the third, was in trouble again in the sixth game, but fought off five
break points to stay on terms and push it to the decisive tiebreaker.
Kyrgios leveled his head-to-head record with Nadal at 3-3 and will
play three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka for a place in the
Switzerland's Wawrinka, seeded third, belted 32 winners in a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over American Steve Johnson.
Women's top seed Sloane Stephens also bowed out Wednesday, stunned by Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-3, 6-3.
Haddad Maia's victory over the fourth-ranked American was her first over a top-10 player in seven opportunities.
"It was just a tough match, obviously she played well," said
Stephens, who is playing in Acapulco for the first time since winning
the 2016 title.
"A tough day. But I’m not too sad about it.
"I'm just going to go back and work some more, practice some more and get ready for Indian Wells."
Haddad Maia, 22, next faces China's Want Yafan, who was leading Monica Puig 4-1 when the Puerto Rican retired with an injury.
Former world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus sailed into the quarter-finals, downing Tatjana Maria 6-2, 6-1.
Azarenka fired 20 winners to Maria's 10, and took full advantage of the German's 28 unforced errors.
Results from Mexico Open ATP and WTA tournaments in Acapulco on Wednesday (x denotes seed):
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) bt Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (8/6)
Stan Wawrinka (SUI) bt Steve Johnson (USA x7) 7-6 (7/5), 6-4
John Isner (USA x3) bt Sam Querrey (USA) 6-4, 6-4
John Millman (AUS x8) bt Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 6-0, 6-2
Mackenzie McDonald (USA) bt Frances Tiafoe (USA x6) 6-7 (7/9), 7-5, 6-3
Cameron Norrie (GBR) bt Diego Schwartzman (ARG x4) 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-3
Alex de Minaur (AUS x5) bt Feliciano Lopez (ESP) walkover
Alexander Zverev (GER x2) bt David Ferrer (ESP) 7-6 (7/0), 6-1
Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA) bt Sloane Stephens (USA x1) 6-3, 6-3
Wang Yafan (CHN) bt Mónica Puig (PUR) 4-1 retired
Donna Vekic (CRO x3) bt Christina McHale (USA) 6-4, 7-5
Johanna Konta (GBR x8) bt Varvara Flink (RUS) 6-4, 6-1
Zheng Saisai (CHN x7) bt Tímea Babos (HUN) 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Bianca Andreescu (CAN) bt Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU x4) 6-2, 7-5
Sofia Kenin (USA x5) bt Katie Boulter (GBR) 6-4, 4-1 retired
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) bt Tatjana Maria (GER) 6-2, 6-1