#NextGen star Nick Kyrgios cruised past Gilles Muller 6-4, 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2016 on Friday. The Aussie cranked 18 aces and did not drop serve in the 70-minute win.
“I thought I played great today,” Kyrgios said. “I served well, returned well and my engagement level was really good the whole time.”
Kyrgios broke the left-handed Muller in the opening game of the set, then held comfortably to arrive at 5-4. Needing to break to extend the set, Muller mustered two break points but saw Kyrgios erase both with well-placed serves. The Aussie extended his advantage with spectacular, creative shotmaking to lead 5-1 in the second set and sealed victory on his third match point.
“I love playing in Japan, even back when I was a junior,” Kyrgios said. “The crowd is always enthusiastic. They’re always clapping, making noise. It’s fun to play in front of them. You can tell they’re different.”
Kyrgios only lost four points when landing a first serve and has yet to be broken this week. He remains in contention for a third ATP World Tour title (Marseille and Atlanta). The big-serving Muller also came into the match having not dropped serve, but was broken three times (3/12) on Friday.
In the semi-finals, Kyrgios will meet No. 2 seed Gael Monfils, who excelled on big points in beating Ivo Karlovic 7-6(6), 7-6(6). The acrobatic Monfils held the big-serving Karlovic to nine aces and replied with nine of his own to win in 91 minutes. Monfils and Kyrgios will be meeting for the first time at an ATP World Tour event. The Frenchman won their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting in Davis Cup in 2014.