Nick Kyrgios came to a fork in the road Wednesday night at the US Open and chose the hard path to victory against gritty Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi. But after a spectacular finish, during which he won the last nine points of the match, the Australian survived 7-6(3), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 and will play American J.J. Wolf in the third round.
“I was hanging by a thread. His level today was incredible,” Kyrgios said. “He was up a break in the fourth and it could have gone either way. I played some really risky tennis late in the fourth, which paid off, and I’m really happy to get through.
“I felt like Benjamin was eating up my serve, making so many returns,” he said. “But 30 aces helps a lot. When my serve is going the rest of mygame tends to follow.”
Kyrgios hit 65 winners, including 30 aces, and mounted a spectacular recovery when he found himself staring down the barrel of a fifth set when serving at 4-all 0/40 in the fourth set. Kyrgios hit a winning drop shot from the back off the court, a nonchalant crosscourt forehand winner and a huge ace up the T to get back to deuce. And that was just the start.
After closing out the game, he broke Bonzi to love to move to within one win of keeping his end of the deal to set a blockbuster potential fourth-round showdown with World No. 1 and defending champion Daniil Medvedev.
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Earlier, Kyrgios had seemed on pace for a routine straight-sets win, but a disastrous serve/volley play on break point down at 4-all in the third saw him drop serve, allowing Bonzi back into the match.
Kyrgios has been in red-hot form in recent months. The Australian is now 17-3 since the beginning of Wimbledon, where he reached his maiden Grand Slam final. He lifted his seventh ATP Tour title in Washington at the beginning of August and is now up to No. 22 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, having been outside the Top 100 as recently as March.