Nick Kyrgios sacrificed a two set advantage as Andreas Seppi avenged a five-set loss two years ago with an epic victory to dump the local hero out of the Australian Open on Wednesday.
In a madcap match played in a charged atmosphere, 14th seed Nick Kyrgios looked in command with a two sets lead before a familiar meltdown in the third set changed the complexion of the contest.
The 89th-ranked Andreas Seppi, who saved a match point, advanced to a third-round match with Belgium’s Steve Darcis with a 1-6, 6-7 (1/7), 6-4, 6-2, 10-8 win in three hours, nine minutes.
Nick Kyrgios won a five-set scrap with Seppi on the same Hisense Arena court in 2015, taking their fourth round match 8-6 in the fifth set.
“Maybe it was meant to be,” Seppi said of avenging his 2015 loss to the 21-year-old Australian.
“It was a tough match and I couldn’t get into a rhythm and fell 2-0 sets behind. I kept fighting and started to play well in the important moments.
“I was concentrating on my game and not worrying about he was doing. It was important to keep going and to stay focused.”
Yet again Kyrgios’ brittle temperament snapped during the third set as Seppi came storming back after looking down for the count.
Kyrgios was given a warning for an audible obscenity by chair umpire Carlos Ramos before he bounced his racquet angrily into the court after a break of service.
Ramos docked him a point penalty as Seppi served out for the third set to turn the tide against the volatile Australian.
The 32-year-old Italian maintained his composure and seized the advantage as the body language of Kyrgios showed a player who had suddenly switched off.
Instead of regathering his composure, Kyrgios rushed through his service games giving away cheap points.
Unflappable Seppi quickly levelled the match and sent it into a fifth set after earlier looking headed for a straight-sets exit.
But Kyrgios rallied in the final set and held three break points at 4-3, only for Seppi to save them all and level as the home crowd exhorted every point from the Australian.
Kyrgios had a match point at 8-7 but Seppi saved with a magnificent deep forehand winner before the Australian double-faulted on break point to give Seppi his winning chance.
Seppi brought up two match points at 9-8 and won with an ace, dumping Kyrgios out of his home Grand Slam after two rounds.