Australian Open 2021 - Dominic Thiem ends Nick Kyrgios dream run in thrilling five-set clash
In a memorable night at Melbourne Park, Dominic Thiem clinched a dramatic fifth-set triumph over Nick Kyrgios in the third round of the 2021 Australian Open to win 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4. It was an evening of great tension as home favourite Kyrgios revelled in his role at the centre of the unfolding story and gave absolutely everything in front of a raucous and enthralled crowd.
Dominic Thiem of Austria celebrates winning match point in his Men's Singles third round match against Nick Kyrgios of Australia during day five of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park
The mercurial Australian delighted the Melbourne fans from the outset with a stunning array of gung-ho shots and pantomime reactions, with the 2020 US Open champion left totally stunned in a first set that always felt set to go against him.
Eurosport expert Jo Durie noted on commentary that Thiem was left "completely lost" by Kyrgios's wild but inspired play early on, and he continued to frustrate his opponent with showmanship and showboating.
At one point, the unseeded Australian followed a successful underarm serve with a fake that was blasted away for a winner by Thiem; then soon after left the crowd in raptures as he not only won the second set in style, but with an underarm ace.
Chris Bradnam, on commentary for Eurosport, declared breathlessly, "It's happened!", when Thiem was unable to respond to the underarm serve that left him rooted to the spot, and noted that Thiem had “a mountain to climb.”
'It's happened!' - Kyrgios aces Thiem with underarm to win second set in style
But to Thiem's credit, he duly climbed that mountain, with the crowd very much against him.
Kyrgios struggled to sustain his level as the Austrian roared back in the third and fourth sets. While Thiem belatedly discovered his rhythm and feel in the match, the 25-year-old began to wilt, no doubt affected by the fact that he played another five-setter in the previous round.
The fiery Australian struggled to contain his frustrations in a dramatic final set as tensions mounted, while the noticeably fresher Thiem managed to keep his composure and close out victory under enormous pressure.
'Faces aching with smiles' - Kyrgios delights fans with winner
Kyrgios was given a huge ovation from the Melbourne fans as he departed the tournament having given absolutely everything and produced an inspired effort despite missing a year of action in the sport.
Thiem will next take on 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov, a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park back in 2017, in the fourth round after the Bulgarian defeated 15th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in their encounter.