Nick Kyrgios showcased some nerves of steel as he came back from a set down to defeat world No 2 Roger Federer 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 last night and make the Madrid Masters last 16 on debut.
In a pulsating thriller, the 20-year-old Aussie was facing Federer for the first time and exhibited no signs of intimidation when he broke the Swiss legend in the opening game of the match.
But Kyrgios failed to serve out the set at 5-4 as Federer broke back and ran away with the tiebreak as his opponent got distracted by arguing with umpire Mohamed Lahyani about a mistake made by a line judge.
Peter Fleming on Sky saying that Nick #Kyrgios has the same ability to function amidst self-created chaos as John McEnroe did. High praise.
— DavidLaw (@DavidLawTennis) May 6, 2015
“Get him out of here,” demanded Kyrgios, but Lahyani wouldn’t tolerate the world No. 35’s behaviour and gave him a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Federer broke in the first game of the second set as it appeared Kyrgios was still fuming from his earlier exchanges but three games later, the Canberra-native struck back to draw level.
The set went to a tie-break and this time it was Kyrgios who had an edge. At the change of ends during the breaker, an irked Federer was heard saying “we need a clown for this circus” as he passed his own bench. Kyrgios, playing his first ever Masters 1000 event on clay, took the set to force a decider.
Both players gave a clinic in serving throughout the third set, which naturally went to a yet another tiebreak. The 33-year-old Federer saved five match points and squandered two of his own before he finally sent an inside out forehand wide to hand over the victory.
Kyrgios, who last year shocked Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon fourth round and now owns two top-10 wins, described his triumph over Federer yesterday as the biggest of his career while the Swiss blamed his loss on poor returning.
“I couldn’t return his first serve, I had a horrible performance on return of serve,” said Federer. “That made life difficult for me. I’m disappointed with how I played on returns, and that cost me the match.”
Tennis action resumes in Madrid this week but there’s one notable absentee and that is world No1 Novak Djokovic.
The Serb pulled out of the Masters 1000 event in the Spanish capital looking to get some rest and the world has suddenly split into two camps – one believing it is a risky move from Djokovic and could hurt his French Open chances and the other thinking it’s a decision that could land him the elusive Roland Garros crown.
Djokovic has a 30-2 win-loss record in 2015 and has lost just twice since mid-October last year. He’s won the Australian Open as well as the opening three Masters trophies of the season, most recently the clay crown in Monte Carlo and is enjoying the strongest starts to a year he’s ever had.
He still has Rome to play in preparation for the French and he already has a win over his clay nemesis Rafael Nadal on the red dirt.
So it’s beyond me why anyone would consider Djokovic skipping Madrid as a risky choice.
Some say if Nadal does well this week and wins, he’ll regain his confidence and he’ll once again stop Djokovic in Paris (the world No1 has lost to Nadal there six times, including the last three years). Others worry that after a three-week break, a tricky opener in Rome could end Djokovic’s campaign there early and he’d find himself heading to Roland Garros with no wins on the surface in five weeks.
Djokovic missed Madrid last year, then won Rome by beating Nadal in the final, then fell to the Mallorcan in the French Open title match.
I think there’s too much misplaced emphasis on Madrid as a French Open tune-up. It’s actually not that crucial of a stop with regards to Paris.
The conditions are quite different, the altitude makes the ball fly differently and that’s why it was moved up in the calendar, swapping places with Rome.
I believe it’s smart that Djokovic took some time off; winning all those matches has definitely helped bolster his confidence but it also must have taken its toll on him and it might prove to be an intelligent move that could pay off in Paris.
He’s only won Madrid once (in 2011) so it’s not like it’s a happy hunting ground for him.
Let’s face it, Djokovic isn’t losing early in Rome and barring injury, he should get to Paris feeling better than ever.
If he does end up losing at the French Open, it certainly won’t be because he skipped Madrid.
British number one Andy Murray wins his first clay-court title, beating German Philipp Kohlschreiber in the Munich Open final.