Federer races to a 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 victory after just an hour and 44 minutes over Australian
Two days after the controversy over his pep talk from umpire Mohamed Lahyani during a second-round win over Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Kyrgios had hoped his tennis could write the headlines.
But a missed chance in the opening set proved the turning point as Federer raced to a 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 victory after just an hour and 44 minutes.
“I’m very happy to have won,” said the second seed. “I thought I played very well. At the beginning it was hard to get any rhythm, the first set was key. I enjoy playing against Nick, he comes up with different shot-making. He keeps you on the edge.”
If Rafael Nadal against Karen Khachanov was a gladiatorial battle, this was part tennis match, part circus show, and Federer was the ringmaster.
They had played three times before, with Federer winning two, but each had gone to a deciding tie-break, so hopes were high that this could be a tight contest.
Keeping his head down is not Kyrgios’ style and he ran out for the warm-up like Nadal before imitating Federer’s service motion in the fourth game.
It won him the point, but probably did not impress the man down the other end. Federer admits he, too, does things on court to keep himself entertained, trying different tactics like his half-volley return, but it is unlikely he empathises too much with Kyrgios’ approach to tennis.
For 25 minutes, this was a compelling contest, and, had Kyrgios taken advantage of four break points in the seventh game, including three at 0-40, then the match might have panned out very differently.
But he could not and three games later Federer found a way into a Kyrgios service game for the first time and sliced a backhand return down the line to take the set.
Kyrgios began to rant at his box and things swiftly went from bad to worse at the start of the second set. Sitting down at 0-3, the scoreline was exactly the same as it had been against Herbert when Lahyani intervened, but umpire James Keothavong stayed firmly in his chair.
All the tricks were coming from the Federer racket as he drop-shotted his opponent almost at will and arrowed passing shots inside the lines.
Kyrgios at least avoided a love set, stopping the run of games against him at nine, and the third set gave the crowd the contest they had been hoping to see.
The seventh game was a show in itself, highlighted by a forehand Federer somehow guided round the net-post that left Kyrgios open-mouthed in amazement.
Speaking about the shot afterwards, Federer said: “The funny thing about this shot is I didn’t think of it until I hit it. I thought I was not going to get it. I realised it went too flat. Definitely a bit of luck but also good feet and I guess I deserved it.”
Federer broke serve to lead 6-5 and served out the victory to love to set up a last-16 meeting with another Australian, the unheralded John Millman.