Nick Kyrgios’ strong late-season form has continued, with the Australian moving into the quarter-finals of the Japan Open via a comfortable straight sets win over Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.
There may have been a rankings gap between the two players – Bautista Agut at world No.22, 12 spots above Kyrgios, but the two-time grand slam quarter-finalist made light work of the encounter, winning 6-4 6-2 in just 56 minutes.
The highlight of the match was Kyrgios’ between-the-legs half volley to secure a break at the start of the second set.
“I guess I’ve been doing it all of my short career,” he said.
“I love entertaining the crowd and I hope to put on a show again tomorrow.”
He’ll now play France’s Benoit Paire who downed Marcos Baghdatis 6-3 2-6 7-5.
Two more wins for the 20 year-old Kyrgios in Tokyo could set up a potentially spicy final against top seed Stan Wawrinka.
Kyrgios infamously made a slur against the Swiss two months ago while playing him in Montreal, court side microphones picking up on his comment that fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis had slept with Wawrinka’s girlfriend.
Meanwhile, Marin Cilic produced a masterclass as he overpowered American Steve Johnson 6-3 6-3 to set up a quarter-final against defending champion Kei Nishikori.
Sixth seed Cilic beat the Japanese superstar in last year’s US Open final and the Croatian showed enough against Johnson to suggest Nishikori will face a severe test on Friday.
“It will be very special to play Kei in Tokyo for the first time,” said Cilic, who is chasing a first title of the year and the 14th of his career.
“We played a close match in Washington earlier this year and Kei won that one, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I just hope I can play as well as I did today.”
Top seed Wawrinka and Nishikori both had the day off after booking their places in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.