Mats Wilander believes that Nick Kyrgios is one of the best players in the world when he fights like he did against Dominic Thiem at the 2021 Australian Open.
The fiery Australian came up just short in an explosive and hugely entertaining third-round clash against the third seed at Melbourne Park, which went to five thrilling sets.
In what was one of the final matches with fans present before a five-day absence due to local Covid-19 measures, the spectators at least got to witness what Eurosport's Barbara Schett hailed as, "the match of the tournament."
"It was unbelievable," agreed Wilander in the Eurosport Cube, who went on to laud both Kyrgios and Thiem for their battling qualities and talent.
"Of course, we got a feeling for it when Nick Kyrgios beat Ugo Humbert in the previous round, and then to follow it up like this – this is professional tennis at its best.
"It kind of has to involve a local hero and a crowd that is going nuts. Don’t forget Dominic Thiem, the way that he played, the way that he acted.
"He didn’t go against the crowd, he just kept fighting and kept his head down. But Nick Kyrgios, what a show he put on again.
'Tennis at its very best' - Wilander raves about Thiem's win over Kyrgios
"He has lit this tournament on fire! For me, these last two matches he has played have been by far the two best matches.
"This gives us hope for the future. Hopefully this will give Kyrgios a mindset that he is good enough to play with these guys. Hopefully he gets in there and does a bit of practising.
With the shot-making and decision-making, and when he fights like this, he's one of the best players in the world and one of the best to watch.
'It's happened!' - Kyrgios aces Thiem with underarm to win second set in style
Wilander was impressed with how Thiem managed to turn the match around and believes he demonstrated the mindset of a true champion.
"He started to be able to read Kyrgios's serve. Was he playing well at the beginning? Not really, he was too passive. But Kyrgios was on fire.
"Thiem got a bit lucky in the third set, but the mindset... I thought he might let it go with Kyrgios playing so well, but he didn't.
Rafa Nadal doesnt, Novak Djokovic doesn't, Roger Federer doesn't, and Dominic Thiem doesn't let go any more.
Thiem will next take on 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov, a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park back in 2017, in the fourth round after the Bulgarian defeated 15th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in their encounter.
Highlights: Thiem comes from two down to end Kyrgios dream in thriller
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