Kyrgios subdues Stepanek at Wimbledon
Nick Kyrgios opened his Wimbledon campaign with an impressive four-set victory over crafty Czech veteran Radek Stepanek.
Nick Kyrgios has staked a claim for shot of the tournament in seeing off dogged Czech Radek Stepanek in four sets in a typically eventful start to his Wimbledon campaign.
Australia’s 15th seed produced a spectacular between-the-legs lob winner while preserving his flawless first-round record at the All England Club with a 6-4 6-3 6-7(9) 6-1 triumph on Tuesday.
After dropping the third set to an inspired Stepanek in a thrilling tiebreak, Kyrgios regained his composure to book a date on Tuesday with dangerous German wildcard Dustin Brown for a place in the last 32 for the third straight year.
Despite his advancing age and wildcard status, 37-year-old Stepanek had shaped as a potential banana skin match-up for Kyrgios.
The former Wimbledon quarterfinalist remains one of the craftiest players on tour and had Andy Murray down two sets to love in the first round at Roland Garros last month.
And once again Stepanek caused his more-fancied opponent a scare, denying Kyrgios a routine straight-sets win after fighting back from a service break down in the third to briefly unsettle the world No.18.
Kyrgios seemed set to progress more comfortably, but for the most part impressed fans with his dazzling shot-making and colourful antics, including his warning ball kids to “watch out, watch out, watch out” when balls were heading their way.
The highlight of his performance was undoubtedly his audacious “tweener” lob winner to break Stepanek at the start of the third set.
But Stepanek wouldn’t go quietly, keeping Kyrgios on court for two hours and 26 and minutes.
Kyrgios said he was relieved to get through.
“He knows how to play on grass. He serves well. He volleys well,” he said.
“I couldn’t lapse at all today. Otherwise I would have got beat.”
Australia’s chief title challenger was also thrilled with the way he managed to hold his nerve after the third-set setback of failing to serve out the contest.
“A couple of years ago if I get broken there, I usually lose the match,” he said. “That’s just maturity. I’m just glad I got through.”
Kyrgios was also wary of Brown, who famously took out Rafael Nadal last year as well as fellow former champion Lleyton Hewitt in 2013.
“This is by far his best surface. He can do dangerous things,” he said of the dreadlocked wildcard.