LONDON (Reuters) - Australian maverick Nick Kyrgios blazed past Feliciano Lopez with a barrage of aces to reach the semi-finals of the ATP 500 Fever-Tree championships at Queen’s Club on Friday.
The 23-year-old was in dazzling form as he claimed a 7-6(5) 7-6(3) victory over the defending champion to set up a clash with top seed Marin Cilic who breezed past Sam Querrey.
Former world number one Novak Djokovic also looked in ominously good shape as he beat France’s Adrian Mannarino 7-5 6-1 to book his place in the semi-final.
Wildcard Djokovic racked up his 800th career win and will face in-form Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the semis after he beat rising American Frances Tiafoe 6-4 6-4.
Kyrgios has his detractors, and his volatile temperament has frequently landed him in hot water with the game’s authorities.
But on his day, when his mind does not wander and he lets his racket do the talking, there are few players who can electrify a tennis court quite like him.
He finished off Lopez with his 32nd ace on Friday, matching the total he landed against Briton’s Kyle Edmund on Thursday, having also served 18 against Andy Murray on Tuesday.
So far his favorite weapon has delivered 4,100 pounds ($5,400) this week to a London children’s hospital, which benefits to the sum of 50 pounds for every ace fired down on the Queen’s center court.
With two more matches still possible, few would bet against Kyrgios adding his name alongside a prestigious list of winners here, that donation looks set to swell.
“I can’t remember a specific time when I’ve served at this level back to back,” Kyrgios, who was narrowly beaten by Roger Federer in Stuttgart last week, told reporters.
To bracket Kyrgios purely as a serving machine, however, would be inaccurate. On Friday against the cultured left-hander Lopez he illustrated just how many weapons he has at his disposal — including the logic-defying trick shots.
His jabby double-handed backhand, delivered with almost no backswing, gave him the first mini-break in the first set tiebreaker, and he followed that with a backhand passing shot off a low skidding Lopez approach.
An exquisite lob gave him daylight in the tiebreaker and then he ended the first set by feathering a crafty drop shot.
Playing classical serve and volley tennis, Lopez exerted pressure on Kyrgios in the second set but there was no hint of the meltdowns that have occurred in the past.
At 3-4 Kyrgios was down 15-40 but conjured a 134mph second serve on his way to holding. The world number 21 then faced a set point at 4-5 but Lopez was powerless as another ace flew by.
Kyrgios got steamed up early in the tiebreak, yelling at his entourage. But he remained calm enough to claim victory with yet another bamboozling first serve.
The day’s earlier match was a snooze fest by comparison as Cilic beat Querrey 7-6(3) 6-2 in little more than an hour.
Cilic failed to convert a set point in the 10th game but once he had taken the opening tiebreaker he was untroubled.
The big Croat, winner of the prestigious Wimbledon warm-up event in 2012 and runner-up in 2013 and last year, was ruthless as he won nine points in a row on his way to a 4-0 lead and was untouchable on serve as he sealed victory in 78 minutes.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Alison Williams and Ed Osmond