MELBOURNE, Australia -- Nick Kyrgios is into the third round at Melbourne Park, and that's sure to please the whole of Australia.
It's a sentence you might not have seen written in the past but Kyrgios gained a new legion of fans with his heartwarming bushfire relief gestures earlier this month, and with tennis legend John McEnroe also coughing up cash for every set the Australian wins this fortnight, it's a premise which most certainly applies in 2020.
The world No. 26 was in devastating touch on Thursday night, aside from a five minute lapse in concentration which cost him the third set when he looked to be minutes from the finish line. Still, Kyrgios managed to compose himself and overcome Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, earning a place in the last 32 of his home Slam.
Kyrgios showed his intent from the very first game of the match. He broke the Frenchman to love, had Melbourne Arena rocking and, with it, took the early ascendancy.
After 27 minutes he had wrapped up the first set, courtesy of some of the most clinical tennis he's ever produced on the hard, blue courts of Melbourne. He struck an impressive 14 winners and made just two unforced errors. It was patient, methodical tennis. The type of tennis rarely associated with Kyrgios' game.
Little changed in the second set. Kyrgios again broke Simon's serve in the first game and continued to boss the contest. Not only did he win the short points, he also had the better of Simon in the longer, grueling rallies. His forehand was on song and Simon simply had no answer for the Aussie's power.
With every passing minute, and with a two-sets-to-love lead, Kyrgios' confidence was sky high. At one stage in the third set he even attempted a tweener shot at the net, a point he ended up winning.
But not long after, at 4-2 up and just two games from wrapping up the match, things took a turn.
Kyrgios began rushing points, arguing with his box and started looking uncomfortable. If he wasn't overhitting the ball, he was attempting drop shots which were never on. Simon, a 35-year-old veteran who is no stranger to best-of-five tennis, seized on his frustrated opponent and reeled off four straight games to pinch the third set.
The match tightened up in the fourth and it took Kyrgios until the 11th game to get a break point opportunity. He eventually converted before holding his serve up the other end of the court, earning a place in the third round.
"I was pretty happy [to win in four sets]," Kyrgios said. "If it had gone five sets it would have been tough physically, especially going up against a guy like that and with conditions very slow.
"I lost my way a little bit in the third set but I thought I lifted in the fourth. I told myself to cut the bulls--- and get to work. It was a good feeling to get through that."
Further good news for Kyrgios admirers and Australians in general is that the 24-year-old will be donating a further AU$5,600 towards bushfire relief after sending down another 28 aces.
Next up for Kyrgios is Russian 16th seed Karen Khachanov, who took five sets to overcome plucky Swede Mikael Ymer, but eyes are already turning to a potential blockbuster match against world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the fourth round.