Fifth seed Del Potro knocked out by Bautista
NICK MULVENNEY AND MELISSA WOODS
Juan Martin Del Potro arrived at the Australian Open tipped as the one player capable of ending the grand slam dominance of Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray but has become the first major male casualty.
The gentle giant was felled 4-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 7-5 in the second round by Spain's Roberto Bautista in the early hours of Friday morning.
The fifth-seeded Argentine had shown signs that he might be returning to his best form with victory in the warm-up tournament in Sydney but succumbed in a three-hour 53-minute thriller on court two.
"He played a great match. It's tough when you play a very high level for four hours," the 25-year-old Del Potro told reporters.
Extreme heat kept the former US Open champion and his 62nd-ranked opponent off court until 9.25pm local time and they treated the crowd to an exciting match in which they combined for 100 unforced errors and 125 winners.
Bautista went for his shots to win the latter count 72-53 and took his place in the third round at a grand slam tournament for the first time when the exhausted world number five netted.
Despite succumbing so early in the tournament, Del Potro did not seem too disheartened.
"I already won a tournament last week and that gives me confidence to improve my game," he said.
"This kind of match also helps me to learn something and I will try to take the positive things about this match ... to improve my game."
KYRGIOS LOSES, WINS FANS
Rising Australian teen Nick Kyrgios has lit up world tennis despite losing in five sets in the second round of the Australian Open.
The 18-year-old was both flashy and fearless but ultimately undone by cramps as he fell to French 27th seed Benoit Paire 6-7 (7-5) 6-7 (7-5) 6-4 6-2 6-2.
He was the last remaining Australian male in the singles draw following the earlier elimination of fellow teen Thanasi Kokkinakis by Rafael Nadal.
Paire now faces unheralded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut who surprisingly eliminated fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro 4-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 7-5.
In a match that finished at 1.38am Friday, Kyrgios delighted a raucous crowd on Margaret Court Arena with his massive serve and forehand coupled with a never-say-die attitude.
Typical of his shot-making, he saved set point in the second with a ridiculous half volley off his feet.
Kyrgios also won fans in the tennis world too with defending women's champion Victoria Azarenka tweeting "Australian tennis men's future is looking really good ".
But the Frenchman played with similar panache, overcoming some early trouble with his erratic forehand and a knee problem that required a medical time-out.
He saved three break points that would have seen Kyrgios level at 5-5 in the third set, and then served out the set to remain alive in the match.
With Kyrgios barely able to move in the final set with leg cramps, Paire took control to come back from two sets down for the first time ever.
"It was a really good match and I was really happy to win," said Benoit.
"He was playing unbelievable in the first two sets.
"He was then tired and cramping which helped me."