The Australian battled back from first-set disappointment to oust second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 victory at the ATP 500 event in Halle on Wednesday afternoon.
After a strong second-set showing to level the match, the World No. 65 clinched a crucial break late in the deciding set to seal a quarter-final spot on tournament debut. The Australian struck 32 winners (including 9 aces), fewer than Tsitsipas’ 39 winners (including 18 aces), but stayed resolute to clinch victory in the two-hour, five-minute encounter and complete his biggest win by Pepperstone ATP Ranking since he defeated the same opponent at the 2020 ATP Cup.
“Stef is one of the best players in the world at the moment and he’s going to have some amazing results and I’m sure many, many Grand Slams,” said Kyrgios after the match. “I don’t know if I can say the same for me, but I’m happy to still be able to produce this level with the tournaments I play. It is a testament to how hard I do work when I’m not playing.
“I’m just super excited to move on as well, I want to keep having these big wins on the best courts in the world.”
The win lifts Kyrgios to No. 52 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. With one more victory in Halle, he will be projected to return to the world’s Top 50 for the first time since March 2021.
Kyrgios followed his semi-final run in Stuttgart last week with an impressive opening-round win against home favourite Daniel Altmaier in Halle. He continued to look sharp on the grass against Tsitsipas on Wednesday, but only after the Greek had prevailed in a high-quality first set to test Kyrgios’ resolve.
A tight start saw just five points won against serve in the first nine games, before Tsitsipas raised his level to exert some pressure on the Kyrgios delivery. The Greek let slip two break points as Kyrgios rallied to level at 5-5, but Tsitsipas’ perseverance paid off in the 12th game as he converted his sixth set point to move ahead.
Kyrgios bounced back immediately from falling behind, frequently showcasing his unique shotmaking ability. A couple of rasping flat forehands had the crowd on its feet as Kyrgios broke twice to send an intriguing battle into a deciding set.
Both players continued to strike the ball cleanly as neither Tsitsipas in the fifth game nor Kyrgios in the sixth bowed to the pressure when faced with two break points. It was Kyrgios who capitalised on a lapse in the Tsitsipas game, however, his ability to find winners from anywhere all court helping him to a crucial break for 5-4 before he served out to love.
Kyrgios next faces Pablo Carreno Busta, after he defeated Sebastian Korda 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 earlier on Wednesday.
“I’m excited,” said Kyrgios when asked about facing the No. 19-ranked Spaniard. “He’s a hell of a player and he can play on all surfaces. So I’m going to try and see what I can do, bump a couple of returns and serve big, and see how it goes.”