Andy Murray will have to wait until Sunday to discover his fourth-round opponent after Nick Kyrgios and Feliciano López’s hugely enjoyable thrash metal encounter was halted for bad light while poised at one set all.
Kyrgios, the 15th seed, powered to the opening set on the back of a first serve that rarely missed. But as López forced his way back into the match, Kyrgios became increasingly irate with the entourage in his box, demanding at one point they cheer him on with more vigour – or leave the court. Reports later emerged that he was heard to label some of them “retarded”.
His fellow Australian Bernard Tomic apologised this week after saying in a Wimbledon press conference that he felt like “a retard” when an opponent was slow to follow him on to court, and Kyrgios will face more questions about his conduct after the match.
Yet Kyrgios rallied from 5-3 down in the second set to force a tie-break, only for López, the 22nd seed, to increase his intensity to win it 7-2 before play was called off at 9.03pm.
López had won the pair’s two previous meetings and the 34-year-old Spaniard was immediately on the front foot as he broke Kyrgios in the opening game. However Kyrgios immediately returned the favour, producing a rapidly dropping lob for a winner and benefiting from a double fault to break straight back.
Play then went with serve until Kyrgios took a lengthy break for what a appeared to be a blocked nose at 4-3 – although whether it was due to internal bleeding or hay fever was not entirely clear. “You know why?” Kyrgios said to the umpire. “It’s the stupid weather.”
Kyrgios apologised to López, who had wrapped himself in towels like a boxerto keep warm, for the delay. But the break clearly had a detrimental effect on the Spaniard, who was broken immediately, and then had to watch as Kyrgios’s serve took him to the first set in 35 minutes.
The second set went with serve until López finally started to decipher the Australian to break and then serve for the set at 5-3. But no one on No1 Court minded much when Kyrgios broke back to prolong the second set, such was the quality of the tennis.
Whoever emerges victorious on Sunday, however, is unlikely to have Murray unduly worried. The Scot holds a 10-0 record against López and has beaten Kyrgios in all their four matches.
There will be at least one Australian in the last 16 after Tomic beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. Said Tomic: “I showed how good I can play on grass. He’s an amazing player, a guy 14 in the world, and for me to beat him that comfortably just showed how well I’m playing.”
It is 25 years since a German lifted the men’s singles trophy at Wimbledon but Alexander Zverev hinted that he could one day follow in the footsteps of Boris Becker and Michael Stich as he came through a five-set thriller against Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny to progress to the last 32 at SW19 for the first time.
The 19-year-old Zverev, who is the highest ranked teenager in tennis, did not budge from comparisons with his illustrious countryman after coming through 6-4, 3-6, 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 – but insisted he was still far from the finished article.
“We’ll see how the tournament goes,” he said, smiling. “Obviously, that’s what I’m working for but I’m far away from that right now.”
Meanwhile the fifth seed, Kei Nishikori, equalled his best performance at Wimbledon – and set up a repeat of the 2014 US Open final with Marian Cilic – by beating Andrey Kuznetsov in straight sets 7-5, 6-3, 7-5.
The sixth seed, Milos Raonic, went through without difficulty, beating Jack Sock 7-6, 6-4, 7-6, to set a meeting with the 11th seed, David Goffin, who beat Denis Istomin in four sets.
But there was a surprise on the outside courts as the unheralded American Steve Johnson beat the former semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 to book a last 16 meeting with Roger Federer.
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