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.)