Five Aussies into third round but Tomic misses out
BERNARD Tomic has fallen valiantly short of setting up a blockbuster first-time showdown with Nick Kyrgios on an otherwise banner day for Australia at Wimbledon.
Kyrgios, teenage ace Alex de Minaur, in-form Matt Ebden and seeded women's stars Ashleigh Barty and Daria Gavrilova have given Australia five players in the third round for only the second time in 20 years.
Tomic was trying to make it six Aussies in the last 32 for the first time since 1989, only to suffer four-set despair against Japanese star Kei Nishikori.
Tomic had three set points to seize a two-sets-to-one advantage, including two in a row with Nishikori serving at 4-5 and 15-40, but was unable to convert before bowing out 2-6 6-3 7-6 (9-7) 7-5 in a two-hour, 43-minute thriller on Show Court 2.
The 25-year-old's demise is the second time in a month that Australian fans have been denied a spicy first-time duel between Tomic and Kyrgios.
The one-time Davis Cip teammates had been slated to clash in the first round of the French Open, only for Kyrgios to withdraw on match eve with an elbow injury.
But Kyrgios's decision is now proving a wise one, with Australia's leading Wimbledon title hope powering into the third round without dropping a set.
The 15th seed took his tournament ace tally soaring past the half-century mark with another 19 untouchable deliveries in 6-3 6-4 7-5 dismissal of Dutchman Robin Haase.
Victory over Nishikori could set up a fourth-round shootout with German world No.3 Alexander Zverev.
De Minaur and Ebden both continued their breakout grand slam showings with impressive wins over Frenchmen.
Making his Wimbledon main-draw debut, 19-year-old de Minaur earned himself a dream show-court crack at world No.1 Rafael Nadal with a 6-2 6-7 (10-8) 7-6 6-3 win over Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Win or lose, the 2016 Wimbledon junior finalist has assured himself another career-high ranking inside the world's top 70.
Playing the best tennis of his life, 30-year-old Ebden is through to the third round of a major for the first time, too, following a 6-3 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-1 success against veteran qualifier Stephane Robert.
Ebden plays another Frenchman next on Saturday, Gilles Simon, for a possible fourth-round tilt at Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro.
Barty and Gavrilova are also enjoying watershed Wimbledon campaigns.
Barty's 6-4 7-5 win over 2014 runner-up Eugenie Bouchard advanced the 17th seed to a third-round meeting with Russian 14th seed Daria Kasatkina.
Gavrilova plays unseeded Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich next after ending fellow Australian Samantha Stosur's tournament with a dominant 6-4 6-1 victory.
Australia also had five players in the third round in 2015 - Kyrgios, Tomic, Sam Groth, Stosur and Casey Dellacqua.
But this is only the second time since Pat Rafter, Mark Philippoussis, Mark Woodforde, Jason Stoltenberg and Todd Woodbridge all made it this far in 1998 that Australia has been so well represented in the last 32 at The All England Club.
The vastly improved showing comes after Arina Rodionova was Australia's only first-round singles winner last year.
Watch all the Wimbledon action on FOX SPORTS with LIVE coverage up until the Quarter Finals. SIGN UP NOW >