ACAPULCO, Mexico — Australia’s Nick Kyrgios used a barrage of 25 aces to defeat top-seeded Novak Djokovic 7-6 (9), 7-5 early Friday morning and reach the semifinals of the Mexican Open.
Kyrgios blasted 16 aces in the first set to beat Djokovic in his first match against the second-best player in the world and will play against American Sam Querrey in one of the semifinals.
Spaniard Rafael Nadal will face off against Croatia’s Marin Cilic in the other.
"It’s a big win," Kyrgios said. "I was a little bit nervous because I’m sure the crowd was rooting for Novak. He’s one of the greatest players of all time, but I’m playing with confidence. My serve is the best part of my game, and I had one of my best serving matches tonight."
Kyrgios, the world’s 17th-ranked player, also defeated Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal the first time he played against them. The 21-year-old Australian beat Nadal in Wimbledon (2014) and Federer in Madrid (2015).
Djokovic was playing in his first tournament since a shocking loss in the second round of the Australian Open.
Now Kyrgios could face Nadal in the final if he manages to get past an inspired Querrey, who’s having a great week in Mexico.
Querrey reached the semifinals in Acapulco for the second year in a row. In 2016, he lost to Thiem, but this time around, the American got the win in just 66 minutes a day after taking down Belgian David Goffin, 11th in the ATP rankings.
Querrey ended Thiem’s seven-match winning streak.
"He is a big-serving American, I played him before, and I know what to expect," added Kyrgios.
Earlier, Nadal ran his Mexican Open winning streak to 13 matches, beating Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6 (2), 6-3.
The tournament winner in 2005 and 2013, Nadal needed almost two hours to finish off Nishioka. The 30-year-old Spanish star overcame a 4-2 deficit in the first set and got out of an 0-2 hole in the second.
"Every game here is special. I did not play my best tennis, but that’s why it has a merit," Nadal said. "I played great the previous rounds and today I was able to get over a tough situation. I’m happy to be in the semifinals. That’s great news."
Nadal will face third-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia. Cilic advanced when American Steve Johnson withdrew because of a right ankle injury.
Nadal is playing in his first tournament since losing to Federer in the Australian Open final. The Spaniard leads the series against Cilic 3-1, but they haven’t played since the Basel quarterfinals in 2015, when Nadal won 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
"He’s one of the toughest rivals in the world, he has a great serve and is very aggressive," Nadal said. "I will have to play so much better than today if I want to have a shot. It’s a big match. I hope to be prepared for it."
Johnson was injured in his match against his fellow countryman Ernesto Escobedo late Wednesday.
On the women’s side, top-seeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia beat France’s Pauline Parmentier 6-2, 6-3. Lucic-Baroni will face seventh-seeded Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, a 6-3, 7-6 (5) winner over third-seeded Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.
American Christina McHale beat Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig 6-2, 6-2. The fifth-seeded McHale, in her second straight semifinal round in Acapulco, will play second-seed Kristina Mladenovic of France. Mladenovic beat Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 6-3.