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Kyrgios defeats boyhood hero to keep alive hopes of home winner

Australian Nick Kyrgios
Australian Nick Kyrgios

By Eleanor Crooks

Nick Kyrgios boosted hopes of a home winner at the Australian Open by beating his childhood hero Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round at Melbourne Park.

The Australian has made it clear how badly he wants to be in the mix for the title with his professional approach so far and he proved the stronger in the big moments to win 7-6 (7/5) 4-6 7-6 (8/6) 7-6 (7/5).

Kyrgios attended the 2008 tournament, when Tsonga reached the final, as a 12-year-old fan and took a ball to each of the Frenchman's practice sessions to get autographed.

"It was amazing," he said. "I'd never won a match on this court. Playing Jo I was obviously very nervous. He was a guy I looked up to as a kid, and still do.

"I just stayed composed, tried to make returns and fired it through. I've got doubles tomorrow and then I've got a tough match against (Grigor) Dimitrov."

Kyrgios felt added tension because of the presence court-side of Hollywood star Will Smith. "I was so nervous," said the 22-year-old. "People think I'm cool but I just wanted him to think I was the coolest person ever."

Rafael Nadal looked in ominous form in a crushing win over Damir Dzumhur to reach the last 16, overcoming the Bosnian 28th seed 6-1 6-3 6-1.

Things were tougher for third seed Grigor Dimitrov, the man Nadal beat in an epic semi-final 12 months ago.

Dimitrov has yet to find the form that carried him to the brink of a first grand slam final but there is no doubt about his desire and he battled past 30th seed Andrey Rublev 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-4.

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