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Fever -Tree ATP Tennis • Nick Kyrgios Beats Feliciano Lopez @ The Queen’s Club

By Richard Pagliario


LONDON—Practice makes perfect.


Unless you’re Nick Kyrgios, who rules out routine with ridiculous result.


Kyrgios rocketed 32 aces and denied two set points in the second set defeating defending Queen’s Club champion Feliciano Lopez, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3), surging into his second straight grass-court semifinal at the Fever-Tree Championships.


The Brisbane champion blasted 32 aces for the second straight match, equaling his personal-best—for a three-set match—that he set in his 7-6 (3), 6-7 (5), 6-3 victory over British No. 1 Kyle Edmund yesterday.


It was Kyrgios’ second straight grass-court win over the Spanish left-hander, following his 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory in last week’s Stuttgart quarterfinals.


“Yeah, it obviously helped me a lot,” said Kyrgios, who has won all three grass-court encounters vs. the new Madrid tournament director. “I played him at Wimbledon, and I know what to expect from him. We have played each other a fair few times. We know what we’re both going to do. I know what his strengths are.”


The searing serve is his signature stroke. Kyrgios claims it was created from his desire to reduce running rather than hours of repetition on the practice court.


“It’s always been like this for me,” Kyrgios told the media while rarely taking his eyes off the Novak Djokovic vs. Adrian Mannarino match on the big screen in the interview room. “My serve’s been like this ever since I was a little kid. It was my best shot. I always based my game around it.


“It was one shot where I didn’t really practice much at all. I would hit maybe 10 or 15 serves a day, you know, would just relax and hit it as hard. I used to just throw the ball up and hit it as hard as I could. I guess just one day it started winning me easy points. I was, like, this is better than running, and that’s it.”


Blasting his wrecking ball serve off the back wall with destructive intent, Kyrgios erupted for four three-ace games and rocked four aces in the 10th game of the second set.


An audacious 134 second serve ace actually elicited gasps from some fans sitting behind the baseline and preceded a four-ace explosion in the 10th game of the second set.


Serving at 5-6, the dynamic Aussie denied two set points, including thumping his 30th ace to force the tie break. Kyrgios cranked his 32nd ace closing in 95 minutes.


Delivering a tournament-best 82 aces in wins over two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, British No. 1 Edmund and defending champion Lopez reinforces Kyrgios’ belief that less is more.


“I never, ever go out on the practice court and hit serves for the sake of hitting serves,” Kyrgios said. “I don’t even hit any serves [in practice]. I always play points out of the hand and maybe roll my arm over maybe five, 10 times and that’s it.”


Kyrgios, who tested Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in a third-set tiebreak in the Stuttgart semifinals last weekend, will take on Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic for a spot in Sunday’s final.


In a rematch of the 2017 Wimbledon semifinals, the top-seeded Cilic conquered Sam Querrey for the sixth time in as many meetings, 7-6 (3), 6-2, charging into his fourth semifinal of the season.


It will be the third encounter between the 2012 Queen’s Club champion and Kyrgios, who have split two prior matches. Kyrgios won their most recent meeting, 6-2, 7-6 (3) in the 2016 Marseille final claiming his maiden title without surrendering serve in 47 service games.


“He’s extremely dangerous when he’s playing well,” Cilic said of Kyrgios. “I think he’s got the game [to be a major champion], great serve, great athleticism, all of the shots. You also have to put all these things into two weeks [to win a Grand Slam]. He’s got that ability.”


The 23-year-old Aussie oozes easy power and natural shot-making skills, but Cilic is the more disciplined player and devoted competitor.


“He does everything really well,” Kyrgios said of Cilic. “He serves well. He’s got an unbelievable backhand. His forehand is quite big. Moves pretty well for a big man. Returns well.


“I know it’s going to be very tough. Last time I played him was a while ago, Marseilles final, but, yeah, it’s going to be tough. He obviously feels very confident on the grass. I mean, he played Querrey today and looked really, really good.”


Brisbane champion Kyrgios has produced his most proactive tennis since claiming his first title on home soil back in January.


The man who unleashed a career-best 37 aces toppling top-ranked Rafael Nadal en route to the 2014 Wimbledon quarterfinals says his chronic right elbow pain has subsided and is serving notice he’s a serious threat for SW19.


“I definitely feel like my preparation for Wimbledon maybe hasn’t been this good before,” Kyrgios said. “I have never won a round here. I have always gone into Wimbledon maybe a little bit underdone match-wise.


“I have played a lot of matches going into Wimbledon, which is maybe something that can help me going forward.”

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