KEY BISCAYNE, Fla.—Nick Kyrgios' tennis game is finally catching up to his sometimes off-putting on-court antics.

On Tuesday at the Miami Open, he reached his first Masters 1000 quarterfinals and became the first Australian to get this far here since Lleyton Hewitt made it to the semifinals back in 2002. (Bernard Tomic reached two Masters quarterfinals last year, in Shanghai and Indian Wells.)

Kyrgios, seeded No. 24, took to the grandstand for his fourth-round match against Andrey Kuznetsov and got off to a poor start, falling behind 3-0 quickly.

“I didn’t necessary play bad, I just started a little flat energy-wise,” the world No. 26 said. “I was hitting the ball fine. He was just playing a lot better than me at the start of the match. I had a lot of confidence behind me. I knew that I was going to come back.”

That confidence is showing. He’s torn through the draw, beating Marcos Baghdatis and Tim Smyczek handily in earlier rounds.

But as is the Kyrgios way, the milestone wasn’t reached without a little controversy.

In the fourth game against Kuznetsov, the 20-year-old was seemingly rattled, and he slapped a ball that a ballperson tossed him into the stands. The umpire promptly issued a warning for ball abuse.

Kyrgios won that game, and broke to win the next, before getting into an argument with umpire Cedric Mourier during the changeover.

“She threw a ball at me, how is that a code?” he asked.

He argued that he didn't intentionally hit the ball out of the court. (Give him partial credit for waiting for the changeover to make his case, but it was still an overall fail for yet another lost argument.)


"No, that’s bull----," Kyrgios said. "You know it too. Anyone else, like if Rafa [Nadal] did that, nah, nah, you’d keep it cool. Keep it cool. This game is biased as anything. You all know it as well ... It’s biased as s---, this game. What else has it got to hide? It’s ruined. Absolutely ruined."

The mini tantrum seemed to help energize the Australian, as he went on to win the first set in a tiebreaker before running away with the match, 7-6 (3), 6-3.

When asked about the incident, Kyrgios simply said, “I stand by those comments.”

Theatrics aside, Kyrgios is playing some of his best tennis this year—he won his first career title in Marseille last month. He’s been a rising star for a number of years already, and is settling into the Top 30 with more and more shots at deep runs. He's also the youngest to reach the quarterfinals of the Miami Open since Juan Martin del Potro in 2009.

"It's exciting," Kyrgios said. "But at the same time, I know that if I'm playing the right style of tennis and if I'm feeling good and if I'm competing, I'm capable of doing that."

He now has a chance to reach the semifinals, but will have to get past Milos Raonic.