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Kyrgios wins five-set thriller, sets up showdown with nemesis Nadal

The umpire deemed Kyrgios had taken too long between points but the Australian argued he was cleaning up caused by a dive during the point of the match.

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“He’s a f***ing idiot,” Kyrgios screamed to his corner.

It was a case of de ja vu. The last time Kyrgios melted down when he didn’t agree with an umpire, he was in Cincinatti.

In that match, he was facing the same opponent – rising Russian star Khachanov.

On that night, Kyrgios fell apart in the decisive third set.

This time, Kyrgios regained his composure, served two big balls and claimed the game.

Kyrgios appeared to injure his upper right leg in the first set.

Kyrgios appeared to injure his upper right leg in the first set.Credit:Getty Images

Five minutes later, a fourth set tiebreak would decide how late the packed house at Melbourne Arena were going to bed.

Khachanov held his nerve to make it a late night. Kyrgios’ two set lead had evaporated.

It wouldn’t have been right for the match to be decided any other way than a super tiebreak.

Kyrgios won the first three points of the first-to-10 decider. Khachanov claimed the next four. Kyrgios cracked a forehand winner to bring the breaker back on serve at 4-4.

Kyrgios appeared home and hosed in the third set.

Kyrgios appeared home and hosed in the third set.Credit:AAP

Finally, after more than 270 minutes of the most captivating tennis seen at Melbourne Park, Kyrgios fell to the Melbourne Arena floor as Khachanov sent a backhand wide on match point.

From the first rally of the match, it was clear the Kyrgios which arrived to play the first two sets against Gilles Simon had made his way to Melbourne Arena.

He was whipping his forehand, crunching his flat backhand and his serve was on point.

In his second service game, Kachanov didn’t manage to return any of the Australian’s four rapid first serves. One of them clocked 230km/hr.

Kyrgios wasn't a happy camper in the fourth set.

Kyrgios wasn’t a happy camper in the fourth set.Credit:Getty Images

The Russian was on his game early, too. But Kyrgios slowly found his rhythm on return, chipped some of Khachanov’s serves back and worked his way to a break point opportunity up 3-2.

He converted.

After spending a few minutes back in the locker room after appearing to tweak either his glute or hamstring, Kyrgios returned and duly broke Khachanov again to take first set, 6-2.

But no Kyrgios set is similar to another and true to form, the second set was a different story to the first.

Kyrgios was moving like Usain Bolt in one game and Mark Cosgrove in another.

It’s unknown how much pain the 24-year-old was in but it didn’t appear to have too much impact on his tennis.

He played more aggressive in return – if that’s possible – but every time he lost a tough point, he clutched at the back of his right leg.

That clutching became more exaggerated in the second set tiebreak.

A mammoth rally at 5-5 – which Kyrgios won – provoked the loudest cheer of the night.

Kyrgios was at his best in the first two sets.

Kyrgios was at his best in the first two sets.Credit:AAP

The Russian was seething. He slammed his racquet to the Melbourne Arena floor as soon as he sent the crosscourt backhand which gave Kyrgios a set point wide.

If the roof was closed, the roar when Kyrgios sent a big serve down the ‘T’ to claim the second set would have lifted it off.

When Kyrgios broke Khachanov’s third service game in the third set, it appeared the Australian was home and hosed. Time for an early shower and begin preparing to face Nadal.

But nothing is ever as it seems when the flamboyant 24-year-old is involved.

Khachanov broke back and sent the third to a tiebreak, which he claimed when Kyrgios sent a crosscourt forehand wide.

He took his game to another level and sent the match to a decider when he held his nerve in the fourth set breaker.

Kyrgios did the same to send the match to a deciding super tiebreak after 335 minutes of captivating tennis.

Nadal awaits Kyrgios on Monday night.

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