Our Day 7 Australian Open preview breaks down Nick Kyrgios’ huge fourth-round showdown with Bulgarian big gun Grigor Dimitrov.

History: Played 3: Dimitrov 2 d Kyrgios 1.

Last meeting: January 6, 2018 (Brisbane International – semi-final): Kyrgios d Dimitrov 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Final Thoughts: Nick Kyrgios is in the form of his life and has the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, but the gifted Canberran faces the toughest assignment of his Australian Open campaign to date in the shape of world No.3 Grigor Dimitrov.

Working in the 22-year-old’s favour is his recent victory over Dimitrov in the Brisbane International semi-finals, fighting back from a set down to chalk up an outstanding victory before blitzing Ryan Harrison in the final. But Dimitrov downed Kyrgios in the final of the Cincinnati Masters in August.

Kyrgios has carried that Brisbane form onto Melbourne, powering to impressive straight-sets wins over Rogerio Dutra Silva and Viktor Troicki, and outlasting 15th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a classic four-setter, winning three tie-breaks.

Krygrios’ famed volatility and mental fragility has not reared its head so far at the tournament, with his psychological attributes seemingly starting to match his prodigious athletic gifts. Coping with the pressure of being a warm $1.59 favourite against a player as highly-rated as Dimitrov looms as a big test, however.

Dimitrov has advanced to the fourth round by disposing of qualifiers Dennis Novak and Mackenzie McDonald in straight sets, and accounting for 30th seed Andrey Rublev in four. But his performances have been short of expectations, plagued by a slew of backhand errors. Dimitrov has been widely tipped for a breakthrough slam performance after reaching the semis of the 2017 Australian Open, but he needs to put his erratic form behind him.

The gritty Bulgarian is undoubtedly good value as a $2.37 outsider, but Krygios’ blistering serve game – winning 80 percent of first-serve points and 60 percent on his second – give the Aussie a massive edge. We’re backing Kyrgios on the strength of his superior form and the recent win over Dimitrov in Brisbane, but expect this tantalising clash to go four sets or beyond.

Tip: Total Games – Over 40.5 @ $1.89


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