Try as he might, Nick Kyrgios was no match for a Daniil Medvedev masterclass.
The Aussie played some truly scintillating tennis but went down to the world No. 2 in four sets during their second round clash at the Australian Open on Thursday night.
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At his best, Kyrgios was able to snatch a set off Medvedev but the Russian showed why he’s the favourite to win at Melbourne Park because for the most part, he absorbed everything the local hero threw at him.
Kyrgios’ despair was laid bare early in the second set when during a change of ends, he shared an exchange with Australian wheelchair tennis icon Dylan Alcott, who was commentating courtside for Nine.
Alcott elaborated on what the pair chatted about as Kyrgios admitted just how tough his challenge was.
“Yeah, we did (have a chat),” Alcott said. “He’s up and about, smiling at me. He’s right in it.
“But he said it’s so tough to play this bloke because unless he doesn’t make his first serve every time, the guy is like a robot, doesn’t miss a shot.
“And it’s true. Medvedev is absolutely unbelievable.
“He also said he wants to go to the donkey drop every time, the underarm serve. I said, ‘Go for it. Why not? If you’re standing that far back’.”
Told by Jim Courier, tongue in cheek, that was “on-court coaching” — which is not allowed — Alcott added: “I’ve got the say, he’s right in it and he’s engaged.
“You know, even though it’s a tough one out here, I think he feels like he’s got a good shot.”
There were moments of magic from Kyrgios — like a ridiculous reaction volley he had no right to make that sent him running away for half a lap of honour — but Medvedev was simply too good for too long.
Despite crashing out in the second round of his home slam, Kyrgios said he was “incredibly proud” of his performance against the man many expect to hold the trophy aloft now Novak Djokovic is out of contention.
“If I play 95 per cent of people tonight on that court I think I win, to be honest with you,” Kyrgios said. “I think if you asked everyone on tour … I think they would probably vote him the best player in the world at the moment.
“His consistency — every game he doesn’t drop his level, he shows up every game … I think no matter what the score is or how much pressure he’s under he never kind of gets flustered. He just has so much belief in his game.
“He’s just so confident right now. To be honest, I threw everything I could at him. I thought
I served consistently 220s, 220km/h for three-and-a-half hours almost, and played pretty well
from the back, created plenty of opportunities on return games.
“I’m super proud of my performance today. From where I was with my struggles the last four, five months, to be feeling like this and, obviously had Covid a couple of days before, you know, I’m just proud of the way I responded.”