Nick Kyrgios was left to rue missed opportunities against Dominic Thiem on Friday, but he remained upbeat about his performances at the Australian Open.
Kyrgios led two-sets-to-love and held two break points on Thiem’s serve in the opening game of the third set, but did not convert those opportunities and went on to lose 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in three hours and 21 minutes.
“If I take one of those break points early in the third set, I think the match is over in an hour and 45 minutes,” said Kyrgios. “I could definitely feel he was going away towards the end of the second [set].”
The 25-year-old Kyrgios was playing just his sixth tour-level match since returning to competition after an 11-month absence. He reached the third round at last week's Murray River Open (l. to Coric).
“Tonight, I was a massive underdog,” said Kyrgios. “I left it all out there. I put myself in a position to win. That wasn't the case against [Ugo] Humbert [in the second round]. My back was against the wall the entire time. I was up two-sets-to-love tonight, and he came back and he won.
“I'm not taking any shame in losing in five sets to the Australian Open finalist and the US Open champion… I'm not probably in the best physical shape I have been in. But I tried to bring what I had and it wasn't enough. I fell short. I'm all right with that.
“I'm not upset at all. I'm actually not disappointed that I lost. I'm going [to] come with my head held high tomorrow, play some doubles [with Thanasi Kokkinakis and] see what tennis I'll play this year. If I can continue to perform like that, I'm sure that the results will follow.”
Playing in front of a big crowd, Kyrgios praised Thiem on how he used the support of the John Cain Arena to his advantage for a place in the Australian Open fourth round.
“I think Thiem actually drew some energy from everyone kind of against him almost,” said Kyrgios. “He's played on the biggest stages in the world, so I don't think he was rattled at all. One thing I noticed about him, maybe [at] two-sets-to-love down, he was always positive. He didn't show any negative emotion. He knew there was a long way to go in that match.
“It was an amazing atmosphere. The energy out there was special. But I'm still proud of myself. I was 11 months away from the game, and to produce that level and go toe-to-toe with one of the best players in the world, I'm pretty proud. I actually physically felt pretty good. I'm sore now."