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Kyrgios vs Wawrinka ATP Acapulco Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Can Nick Kyrgios back up his stunning victory over Nadal with another huge win against Wawrinka?

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 28 Feb 2019
  • Nick Kyrgios vs Stan Wawrinka is live from Acapulco on Thursday, 28 February from 8:00pm local time/ 2:00am GMT (Friday morning)
  • Wawrinka leads Kyrgios 3-2 on head-to-head
Nick Kyrgios. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Can Nick Kyrgios back up his stunning victory over Rafael Nadal with another huge win against Stan Wawrinka when he takes on the Swiss in the quarter finals of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco on Thursday night?

Kyrgios had done virtually nothing in 2019 prior to Acapulco- he was 2-3 for the season and had slipped out of the world's top 70, but the mercurial Australian served another reminder of his outstanding talents on Wednesday night when he took out top seed Rafael Nadal in three sets.

The 23-year-old had opened his tournament with a solid 6-3 7-5 victory over Andreas Seppi, but he stepped it up to another level on Wednesday, recovering from a set down and saving three match points to beat Nadal. The former world No. 13 has often been called out for an apparent lack of trying, but that allegation could not be levied against him on Wednesday, especially in the latter two sets. Kyrgios wasn't without his usual shenanigans, which earned disapproval from the crowd and his opponent, but when the match was on the line, he showed heart and skill in equal measure, battling through apparent physical problems to record one of the finest wins of his career.

Kyrgios later said he had considered pulling out on the morning of the match due to food poisoning, while he had been struggling with a knee issue, but he cast all of that to one side to score his first top-five win since last January.

The signs were not good from Kyrgios early on, as he dropped his serve in the sixth game of the first set after a double fault and a loose volley, and when he took a medical time out after dropping the first set, another Kyrgios retirement looked on the cards. However, he picked himself up and battled on bravely, saving four break points in a pivotal ninth game of the second set, battling back from 0-40 down to hold for 5-4. He would dominate the ensuing tie break, winning the first five points and never looking back after that.

Kyrgios needed more medical attention at the end of the second set, this time on his lower back, but he didn't appear hampered in the deciding set, and was required to dig very deep again midway through the set to hold for 3-3 from 0-40 down. Nadal continued to create chances, and he looked to have finally broken Kyrgios when he opened up a 6-3 lead in the final set tie break, but the Australian had the final say, reeling off the last five points to seal a remarkable victory, and secure back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

“I love going out and playing the big matches,” said Kyrgios. “It’s one of the best atmospheres that I’ve ever played in. You could tell the crowd was loving every minute of that match… That’s what we play for. To come to Acapulco, Centre Court, a packed crowd. They were never silent. They were cheering Rafa’s name, cheering my name. It’s a match I will never forget.” 
“It’s massive. I’ve struggled a lot this year, so to be able to put in a performance like that against the No. 1 seed is pretty special… The level of tennis I played today is a good test for my body [and] just the way I competed, I left it all out there… It’s a massive confidence boost for me.”

Kyrgios had begun his season with a second round loss to Jeremy Chardy at the Brisbane International, where he was defending champion, before falling to Milos Raonic in the first round of the Australian Open. His most recent tournament before Acapulco was Delray Beach where he lost to Radu Albot in the second round. 

He is into the quarter finals of an ATP World Tour event for the first time since last July (when he got to the last eight in Atlanta). Can he go one better, and make the semi-finals in Acapulco just like he did in 2017?

Kyrgios runs into another multiple major champion, Wawrinka on Thursday, but as the Australian has shown over the years, he is no respecter of these reputations. When he is in the mood and serving well, he is a hard man to stop. However, his physical state remains a big issue, as he only just held it together long enough to pull off the win against Nadal.

Stan Wawrinka (Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Unlike Kyrgios, Wawrinka arrives in Acapulco in fine form, of the back off a final Rotterdam, where he was beaten by Gael Monfils, after taken down Benoit Paire, Milos Raonic, Denis Shapovalov and Kei Nishikori to progress into his final since Roland Garros 2017.

Between that 2017 French Open and now, the Swiss has had multiple knee surgeries, missed the second half of the 2017 season, struggled in his comeback in the first half of 2018, and tumbled out of the world's top 250, but he found some form in the latter quarter of 2018, and worked his way back to a year-end mark of 66, even though he quit early through a back injury.

The 33-year-old has generally played well this year, even before the Rotterdam final. He opened his season in Doha, beating Karen Khachanov and Nicolas Jarry before falling to eventual champion Roberto Bautista-Agut. He lost an extremely tight four-set match to Milos Raonic in the second round of the Australian Open- a very difficult draw- before falling surprisingly to Marius Copil in the first round of the Sofia Open. He however rebounded strongly in Rotterdam with his best week of the season- so far.

Wawrinka is on course to matching that this week in Acapulco, where he has put together two solid wins, over Ryan Harrison and Steve Johnson to move into his third quarter final of the season. The three-time Grand Slam champion opened his account with a 6-4 7-6 victory over Ryan Harrison, before beating Johnson 7-6 6-4 in the second round, sending down nine aces, blasting 32 winners, winning 83% of his first serve points and saving both break points he faced in the one-hour 34-minute victory.

Wawrinka leads Kyrgios 3-2 on head-to-head, but the advantage is only 2-1 in completed matches as two of their previous meetings ended via retirements- each man benefiting once.

“It’s going to be incredibly tough. Another multiple Grand Slam champion who knows how to win matches,” said Kyrgios. “It looks like he’s coming into form again. His one-handed backhand is one of the best ever in the game [and] he’s a great competitor”.

True, Wawrinka can produce spectacular winners off that backhand wing, but he’s also got the ability to slice it low and deep, which will be a nightmare for Kyrgios especially if he is still struggling with his back. The Swiss has also got the serve to stay with Kyrgios, and he returns smart enough to create chances on the Australian's serve- even though they will be few and far between. Nadal certainly had his chances on Wednesday, but couldn’t take them…

There is absolutely no doubt that Kyrgios at his best, physically and mentally, can beat anyone- that fact has been known for some time now- but he didn't look completely 100% against Nadal. Does he have enough left in the tank to produce another massive win on a second successive night?

Nick Kyrgios vs Stan Wawrinka is live from Acapulco on Thursday, 28 February from 8:00pm local time/ 2:00am GMT (Friday morning)

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Kyrgios vs Wawrinka ATP Acapulco Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Can Nick Kyrgios back up his stunning victory over Nadal with another huge win against Wawrinka?

Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka meet in the quarter finals of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel on Thursday. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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