Nick Kyrgios survives roller coaster second round to defeat Borna Coric in Cincinnati

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CINCINNATI — If you’re at the Western and Southern Open and haven’t had a chance to get on the roller coaster at the nearby Kings Island, fret not! Just sit courtside for a Nick Kyrgios match and it’ll be just as thrilling of a ride.

The explosive Aussie, who made the final here in Cincinnati last year, came through a tricky second round against Croatia’s Borna Coric 7-6 (1), 0-6, 6-3 on Wednesday, to set up a clash with either Juan Martin del Potro or Chung Hyeon, whose clash got postponed to Thursday because of the rain.

Playing with heavy strapping on both knees, which have been sore for the past few days due to compensation for his troubled right hip, Kyrgios blasted 16 aces in the 1hr 47min battle in front of a buoyant Court No. 10 crowd.

Fans in the stands knew what they were in for when they decided to attend that match and the No. 15 seed gave them the full Nick Kyrgios experience.

There were jumping forehands that came at you like a cannonball, monster first and second serves you couldn’t tell apart, an odd tweener here and a slick one-hander there, multiple conversations between Kyrgios and the crowd and, of course, a mid-match rant over a seemingly bad call from a line judge and the chair umpire.

After grabbing the first-set tiebreak, Kyrgios had trouble moving early in the second and muttered “I can’t move, bro” en route to getting broken in the opening game. Two games later, he ran down a Coric ball and played a deft shot that looked like it had landed in but was called out by the officials. With no Hawk-Eye on Court 10, Kyrgios was left fuming, pointing to a mark on the hard court and asking the umpire if he wanted to come check it out. He rallied the crowd behind him and suddenly they were chanting “out, out” at the umpire. Kyrgios put his fingers around his eyes implying the official needed glasses.

So outraged at the whole situation as he fell behind a double-break 0-3 against an ice-cold Coric, Kyrgios threw the ball out of the court and it landed inside the nearby Centre Court, where his girlfriend Ajla Tomljanovic was leading world No. 1 Simona Halep.

He received a code violation and a point penalty as a result.

“I’m not going to play if I’m going to get cheated by an umpire,” Kyrgios told his team after the changeover. “You’ll never see a bigger tank than the next three games.”

One fan yelled out: “Play for us, Nick.”

Another told Coric: “Let him tank, Borna!”

The dialogue continued between Kyrgios and spectators in the stands.

“He’s having a conversation with us over here. Check out my tweets. This is the greatest thing ever,” tweeted @dc_loves_tennis.

Another Twitter user, @dcarbs33, posted: “This is the most fun match I’ve ever attended.”

Coric ran away with the set and people were not sure which Kyrgios would turn up for the decider. Lucky for them it was the same one who claimed the first set and he got a break with back-to-back hot shots to lead 3-1, letting out a huge ‘come on’ in celebration.

He held on to his advantage and wrapped up the win shortly after. Kyrgios took that match having won two less points than Coric throughout (85 to the Croatian’s 87).

“I knew I was always going to compete in the third set. I competed too hard in the first set not to sort of just let the match slip and not compete, give myself a chance to win, at least,” explained Kyrgios after the win.

“Yeah, the second set, when I was 4-0 down, I knew there was no real point of me going out there and competing and obviously waste energy trying to battle back against like a guy like that.

“I knew at 4-0, if I lost the set 6-0, I was going to be serving first in the third set, and I think I carried a lot of momentum from the first game, and it ended up being a smart move.”

Kyrgios had ice packs on both knees as he addressed the press and admits they are feeling sore.

Asked about his multiple conversations with the fans and whether it’s a distraction or a welcome sidebar, Kyrgios said: “They’re talking to me and then I just kind of respond. It just keeps me relaxed.

“I mean, I don’t think it bothers me too much. It’s not really affecting my play, so I don’t do it just for some fun or anything. I just respond, just like talking to anyone.”

With several question marks regarding his body, Kyrgios seems to be taking things one day at a time, trying to manage his hip, and knees the best way he can.

I know that right now I can still serve through these matches, and that’s enough for me to compete and hang with these guys.

“At this stage, I’m just going to try and get through the US swing and then just re-evaluate where I’m at. Obviously I’ve got an eye on Laver Cup. I really want to compete my hardest and play my hardest. I’ve got an eye on that, but then I’m obviously going to re-evaluate and see what I can do for my body moving forward,” explained the 23-year-old.

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