US Open 2022, Nick Kyrgios vs Benjamin Bonzi, live updates, scores, blog, crowd smoking marijuana, highlights, video, news

Nick Kyrgios has taken the first two sets in a tough challenge against World No. 50 Benjamin Bonzi 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 in a match that has taken plenty of twists and turns.

Kyrgios is coming off a “nightmare” match-up with fellow Australian and good friend Thanasi Kokkinakis, who he took care of in straight sets to progress through.

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It was an impressive performance from Kyrgios, who served 14 aces, won 86 per cent of his first serve points and did not allow a single break point chance to Kokkinakis.

Jelena Dokic said Kyrgios had that “razor-sharp” focus early in the match against Bonzi too, breaking the Frenchman quickly to take the advantage.

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios is in action. (Photo by COREY SIPKIN / AFP)
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios is in action. (Photo by COREY SIPKIN / AFP)Source: AFP

“We talk about Nick’s game a lot and we know how talented he is and I think we’ve talked a lot this year about his fitness as well and for me he is the fittest he’s ever been,” Dokic opened in commentary for Channel 9.

“But for me it’s been his matches where he is the favourite and I think those were in the past the matches where he’s found it hard to stay focussed, go out there and find that intensity and the energy. He’s got a winning record against so many of the top players. But this has been the difference this year.

“He’s playing players where he’s supposed to win and on paper he’s the favourite, he’s coming out and he’s really focussed and getting the job done. That’s the mindset really that we’ve seen.”

Kyrgios prevails in all Aussie showdown | 01:12

But it was not going to be a straight-forward cakewalk for Kyrgios, with Bonzi breaking back in the fourth game after the Australian uncharacteristically struggled with his first serves.

“He’s missed quite a few in that game,” Dokic said.

“He’s aggressive, he takes the ball early and is up in the court. He took his opportunity to be aggressive and come forward. If you are going to beat Nick that is what you have to do.”

Kyrgios had a few chances to break back shortly after but was unable to do so, only increasing his frustrations, which the Australian took out on his box.

That had Todd Woodbridge concerned in commentary.

“I have a feeling it’s going to be a tough day for Nick,” Woodbridge said.

“We’re only 3-all and that’s all being directed at his players’ box already. You have the eyes starting to dart. Never a good sign.

“He’s angry with himself because he had 2-0 and the break and dropped a pretty loose service game for him. He doesn’t lose many service games, that one he more or less gave away. He couldn’t find a first serve in the game that he dropped.

“Everyone knows he can be brilliant and play masterful tennis but the locker room now knows you go out there and be emotionless to him and you give him no energy in that space and he will get distracted in his own right.”

Benjamin Bonzi was playing brilliantly. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

Kyrgios though maintained his focus to get through a few quick service games and send the opening set to a tiebreak.

While the Australian struggled with his first serves at times early in the set, his court coverage was excellent and he was largely matching Bonzi in what were some thrilling rallies.

But the Frenchman himself was well and truly up for the challenge, serving well and keeping the rallies going to test Kyrgios’ endurance early.

Fortunately for the Australian, he answered in the best-possible fashion.

It started with a perfectly placed winner down the line which drew immediate praise from Woodbridge, who said it had been one of the major improvement in Kyrgios’ game this year.

“This is where Kyrgios has been sensational this season,” Woodbridge said.

“This is an improvement in his agility and movement. He’s never been a bad mover because he anticipates so well but this was the first two steps to get over there and look at the racquet work to get the whip around the outside. There was not a lot of room there.

“It had to be perfect and it was,” Dokic added.

Kyrgios then followed it up with a spectacular return, which Woodbridge said “you can’t teach”.

Nick Kyrgios stepped up to the challenge. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

“That is just natural instinct and talent,” he added.

Kyrgios did not look back from there, bouncing back from down 3-2 early in the tiebreak to win the next five points and the set.

“Talk about playing your best when it really matters. He’s played phenomenal,” Dokic said.

“He’s certainly risen here hasn’t he,” added Woodbridge, who said Kyrgios had the opportunity to up the intensity early in the second set and “bury” Bonzi.

There were no early breaks in the second though, with both players trading service games, although Kyrgios’ frustrations threatened to boil over again in the fourth game.

Once more the Australian took it out on his box, although Woodbridge was left asking the same question Kyrgios was.

“Nick says he doesn’t get it, I don’t get what he wants his player’s box when he’s coachless to tell him what to do,” Woodbridge said.

In typical Kyrgios fashion though, he suddenly flicked a switch and hit three aces in his next service game.

“What’s amazing with Nick sometimes is that we see him so distracted a moment ago [and] he can still come out and play really three strong, solid points again,” Woodbridge added.

“It’s just the amount of energy he expends unnecessarily.”

Dokic said Kyrgios had to be careful the frustration did not “build” and go “further and further” given how well he was playing when locked in.

She added that the second set had dipped in energy, which suited Bonzi, calling on Kyrgios to try lift the intensity and get the match back on his terms.

“I don’t f***ing get it,” Kyrgios said to his box as he looked to lift midway through the second set.

Nick Kyrgios needed to lift his intensity. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“He’s trying to find it [the energy] with his box,” Dokic said, adding: “He needs to lift”.

In a strange turn of events, Kyrgios complained about a fan in the stands smoking marijuana, prompting a warning from the chair umpire to the crowd.

“It was f***ing marajiuana,” Kyrgios said.

“It was smoke. Obviously I’m not going to complain about food.

“Obviously when athletes are running side to side and they have asthma, it’s probably not ideal.”

“Ladies and gentlemen as a courtesy to the players please refrain yourselves from smoking around the court. Thankyou,” the chair umpire said to the crowd.

“Never a dull moment is there… I don’t know the legalities of smoking in the court,” Woodbridge laughed.

But even that bizarre distraction could not stop Kyrgios from doing exactly what Dokic wanted, lifting to claim a few big points down the stretch and take the second set 6-4.

“That second set was a drop [in intensity] from both but Nick was creating the opportunities when it really mattered,” Dokic said.

Kyrgios described Bonzi as a “very solid player” earlier this week, adding: “He is having a great season”.

Kyrgios was supported by NBA superstar Ben Simmons, who was spotted in the stands ahead of the Australian’s match.

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