Melbourne, Australia, 10 February 2021 | Leigh Rogers

There is an exciting new chapter in Nick Kyrgios’ storied history at John Cain Arena.

Tonight, the Australian sensationally saved two match points to defeat No.29 seed Ugo Humbert in a five-set second-round thriller.

In a battle that lasted three hours and 26 minutes, Kyrgios recorded a stunning 5-7 6-4 3-6 7-6(2) 6-4 victory.

“I’m lost for words. Honestly, that is one of the craziest matches I’ve ever played,” Kyrgios said.

Facing an exciting shot maker with a potent serve, Kyrgios got a glimpse of what his opponents often experience.

Humbert was fearless, firing 15 winners and winning 86 per cent of points on his first serve in the opening set. The 22-year-old faced only a single break point, which he calmly saved with a forehand winner.

Kyrgios was not putting a foot wrong, yet couldn’t find a way into the match.

“He was chopping me up,” Kyrgios admitted. “I was trying to figure out how to get into his service games.”

The Australian got his chance early in the second set, breaking in the third game. He held this advantage to level the match at one set apiece, thrilling a vocal crowd.

Humbert was unrattled. The world No.34 broke in the eighth game and served out the third set against an increasingly frustrated Kyrgios.

When the Frenchman broke again in the opening game of the fourth set, it looked like Kyrgios’ Australian Open chances were in major trouble.

But with the crowd willing him to keep fighting, Kyrgios lifted. He earned three break points in the eighth game, all of which Humbert saved with huge serves.

In the 10th game, the Frenchman held two match points. Kyrgios saved both and the momentum dramatically changed.

As the crowd got louder, Kyrgios relaxed and produced some unbelievable tennis. He dominated a fourth set tiebreak, firing three winners and an ace to level the match from the brink of defeat.

Kyrgios, with the momentum firmly in his favour, edged ahead 3-1 in the deciding set and the once-unflappable Humbert finally appeared rattled.

The 25-year-old Australian admitted memories of past five-set wins at John Cain Arena, his favourite court, fuelled him in the final stages.

“The only thing I really had on him today was experience,” Kyrgios said. “I have been in so many big matches, and on that court in particular, two sets to love down, winning. I’ve just been through so much on the court, I just felt like I was an old savvy veteran who had experience over him.

“I was just trying to draw from experience, trying to make him play as much as I could, and then I somehow got out of jail today. Honestly, it’s surreal.”

Kyrgios hit 14 winners to Humbert’s eight in the fifth set to reaffirm his reputation as a big-stage performer.

The result improves Kyrgios’ career record in five-set matches to 8-2, with four of those wins occurring at the Australian Open.

“The crowd was awesome tonight,” Kyrgios acknowledged. “That court is so special. I have had so many good memories on it. The crowd was awesome – half packed and it felt like it was a full stadium. I got goosebumps towards the end.”

World No.3 Dominic Thiem, who has not dropped a set so far this tournament, awaits in the third round. The US Open 2020 champion won his only previous meeting against Kyrgios, which was in 2015, via retirement.

“He trains like an absolute animal,” Kyrgios noted of last year’s finalist. “He’s consistent every day and I actually have a lot of respect for him.”

Kyrgios will be back on court tomorrow evening, partnering fellow Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis in doubles.

It is the close friends’ third appearance in an Australian Open doubles draw together and first since 2015. They play South African Lloyd Harris and Austrian Julian Knowle at Court 3.

> VIEW: Australian Open day four schedule

Bolt beaten in second round

Australian wildcard Alex Bolt also hoped to eliminate a seeded opponent in a late-night match at Melbourne Park – but Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov proved too much to handle.

The No.18 seed recorded a 7-6(1) 6-1 6-2 victory at Margaret Court Arena. Unforced errors hurt Bolt, committing 45 to Dimitrov’s 18.


Aussies in action – day three results

Men’s singles, second round
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) d [29] Ugo Humbert (FRA) 5-7 6-4 3-6 7-6(2) 6-4
[11] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) d [Q] Bernard Tomic (AUS) 6-1 6-3 6-2
[18] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) d [WC] Alex Bolt (AUS) 7-6(1) 6-1 6-2
[20] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) d James Duckworth (AUS) 6-4 6-1 6-2

Women’s singles, second round
[2] Simona Halep (ROU) d Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 4-6 6-4 7-5

Men’s doubles, first round
[10] John Peers (AUS)/Michael Venus (NZL) d Alex de Minaur (AUS)/Matt Reid (AUS) 6-3 6-2
[15] Max Purcell (AUS)/Luke Saville (AUS)
 d Guillermo Duran (ARG)/Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-3 6-3
[WC] Matthew Ebden (AUS)/John-Patrick Smith (AUS) d Pablo Cuevas (URU)/Guido Pella (ARG) 6-7(1) 6-4 6-4
Laslo Djere (SRB)/Stefano Travaglia (ITA) d [WC] Andrew Harris (AUS)/Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-3 6-4

Women’s doubles, first round
Ash Barty (AUS)/Jennifer Brady (USA) d [WC] Abbie Myers (AUS)/Ivana Popovic (AUS) 6-2 6-4
Leylah Fernandez (CAN)/Heather Watson (GBR) d [10] Sam Stosur (AUS)/Zhang Shaui (CHN) 6-4 3-6 6-2

> READ: Aussie men inspiring each other

Australian Open 2021 tickets are now on sale via Ticketmaster.