Wimbledon: Aussie Nick Kyrgios topples Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in spiteful Centre Court encounter

Australian maverick Nick Kyrgios has knocked out fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a wild and wonderful Wimbledon third-round slugfest that threatened to spiral out of control.

Kyrgios, 27, produced sublime tennis to earn a 6-7(2) 6-4 6-3 7-6(7) victory, but the match will be remembered chiefly as one of the most bad-tempered seen at Wimbledon, since the days of American bad boy John McEnroe.

The eagerly awaited Court One clash was the hottest ticket in town, even with Rafa Nadal playing over on Centre Court, and did not disappoint, with scintillating tennis that produced 118 clean winners and mayhem, as both players lost their heads and received warnings.

With the lights on and a deafening atmosphere, unseeded Kyrgios emerged from the chaos with one of his finest Grand Slam victories, edging a nerve-jangling fourth-set tiebreak, after saving a setpoint.

Nick Kyrgios confronts the match referee at Wimbledon
Nick Kyrgios confronts the match referee at Wimbledon. Photo credit: Getty

Kyrgios claimed victory with a drop shot and enters the last 16 for the fourth time - the first since 2016, with serious title aspirations. Next in his sights is unseeded American Brandon Nakashima.

For most of a high-octane first set, the quality of tennis from both players held sway.

Kyrgios was his usual chuntering self, but lost his temper with umpire Damien Dumusois, after an overruled line call at 5-5 in the first set, as he threatened a service break.

Tsitsipas remained focused to win the tiebreak and had a huge chance to seize control at 4-4 in the second set, when Kyrgios let a 40-0 lead slip with two careless drop shots, but saved a breakpoint with a second-serve ace.

Both Players Given Warnings

The fireworks really began in the next game.

First, Kyrgios was warned for an audible obscenity, after being reported by a line judge, then he responded to break the Tsitsipas serve and steal the second set, after the Greek failed to put away a smash, with the court gaping.

Tsitsipas snapped, whacking a ball that narrowly missed the head of a fan and earning a warning.

Kyrgios ranted that Tsitsipas should have been defaulted, called the umpire "a disgrace" and demanded to talk to a supervisor.

"Give me all the supervisors," an irate Kyrgios said, while Tsitsipas went off for a toilet break. "I'm not playing until we get to the bottom of it."

On his return, the Greek was booed, as he became the unwitting villain in the Kyrgios pantomime.

Rattled, Tsitsipas dropped serve early in the third set, then received a point penalty for launching a wild return off a Kyrgios underarm serve - the ball thudding into the scoreboard.

With his blood boiling, Tsitsipas drilled a close-range smash straight at Kyrgios in the next game, missing him and the court, as the atmosphere turned toxic. He then had another go, this time clubbing a backhand straight at Kyrgios.

Serving sensationally, Kyrgios wrapped up the third set with a sublime reflex volley.

Kyrgios, who was fined US$10,000 for spitting towards a fan after his first-round win, had three breakpoints in the first game of the fourth, but as if there was not already enough drama, slipped awkwardly and grimaced, as he clutched his hip.

Tsitsipas wriggled out of trouble and with Kyrgios showing no ill effects, the temperature lowered slightly.

Kyrgios curled an audacious forehand to earn breakpoints at 3-3, but Tsitsipas held firm and roared in defiance.

With gloom descending, Tsitsipas had 0-40 in the next game, but Kyrgios served his way out of trouble to level, before a short break for the roof to be closed and lights switched on, allowing the crowd a welcome chance to draw breath.

On the resumption, Kyrgios saved one setpoint with a searing backhand winner and another in the tiebreak with an audacious half-volley drop shot.

Another drop shot got the job done on his second matchpoint and Kyrgios celebrated wildly, before a brief handshake at the net, after 3h 17m of sporting theatre.