A clash with Rafael Nadal still looms for Nick Kyrgios, but for the time being he will be satisfied to have safely advanced to the third round of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
Kyrgios was in superb touch at times during his 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 defeat of veteran Frenchman Gilles Simon to edge a step closer to meeting Nadal in the round of 16.
His performance in front of a lively crowd on Melbourne Arena was not without its blemishes, as he seemed headed for a straight-sets victory before he dropped serve twice in the third to allow Simon back into the match.
But there were several positives he can take away, as he now turns his attention to facing either Russian 16th seed Karen Khachanov or Swede Mikael Ymer in the third round.
He joins fellow Australians John Millman and Alexei Popyrin in the last 32 of the men’s draw.
“I definitely lost my way a little bit,” Kyrgios said in his courtside interview.
“He’s a tough competitor, he knows how to win matches. I had to refocus. I could have gone to a dark place in the fourth set. I somehow pulled it away.”
Sending down aces was one method by which Kyrgios “pulled it away” and a staggering 28 for the match provided a substantial contribution to the bushfire relief efforts he announced earlier this month.
The bushfires that have ravaged Australia, including those close to his home town of Canberra, continue to be at the forefront of Kyrgios’s mind.
“It’s obviously sad what is going on,” he said.
“I woke up this morning there were some fires going on pretty close to Canberra. It was pretty tough to see.
“The whole tennis world is behind it, not just myself. I think everyone deserves a bit of praise.”
Kyrgios makes blistering start
Although he was flashy at times — the obligatory tweener made an appearance — Kyrgios proved solid on his serve and almost impenetrable at the baseline.
His emotions occasionally threatened to boil over, such as when he took offence to the instruction to “stay tough” on break points, which came from his entourage in the stands during the third set.
Kyrgios made his intentions known in the opening game of the match, having secured a break of the Simon serve.
Simon is a former top-10 player and while he now sits at 61 on the ATP rankings, he still possesses guile and a crafty nature that could troubled Kyrgios at times.
He was happy to engage Kyrgios in lengthy rallies behind the baseline in the hope his opponent would make a mistake, but the Australian was up to the task, as the variety of his game meant he was always a step ahead of the 35-year-old Frenchman.
Kyrgios confidently approached the net when he needed to, crunched ground strokes from deep in the court and even produced an audacious leaping forehand volley to finish off a point.
A second break in the seventh game allowed Kyrgios to serve for the set and he did waste the chance to build early scoreboard pressure.
He was always on top of Simon in the second set and it appeared the third would follow a similar script when he again claimed a service break in the opening game.
But Simon refused to say die and when he broke back to level the set at 4-4 momentum had switched in his favour.
He was able to consolidate the break in Kyrgios’s next service game to win the third set, with his rival beginning to express displeasure with the feedback he was getting from his camp.
Games went on serve in the fourth set until Kyrgios broke Simon to go 6-5 ahead. He closed out the match in commanding fashion with his final ace of the evening, kicking off an exuberant celebration to the delight of the crowd.