How did someone not see this coming. Should have been probably 1 and 3, but Nadal’s fight made this a little bit more interesting in the second set.
The first set was simply abusive and shows how this surface can pretty much negate so much of Nadal’s weapons. Shortened points because of a faster surface against a player with a big serve who can hit from both sides: How in the world does someone like Darren Cahill say this would be an easy Nadal win? Is that why Halep has struggled so much in the big matches? Such certainty when you have NK playing on this stage is absurdly short-sighted.
Brad Gilbert, the loose cannon of the broadcast, once again comes through saying this would be a pick-em, but one could see that BG liked Nick in this one. On serve alone you have to like NK. But the tank-factor I suppose keeps a match like this in question.
Let’s not forget too that Nadal was dealing with the attack on his homeland, a terrible way to go into such a match. Thoughts and prayers for Barcelona, Spain and the entire world against these hate clans (white supremacy and IS to name a few – of course there are so many other people and factors involved in this culture of hate and inequality).
Nadal had to be affected.
But I’m not sure his game in present form would match-up with a motivated Nick Kyrgios, on this surface.
What does motivate Nick Kyrgios? There is ample evidence to suggest that he likes playing the big boys. He’s had success against Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. He’s actually 0-5 against Murray. But getting-up for the real deals of this championship era doesn’t seem to be too much to ask of Nick.
He took the racket out of Djokovic’s hands earlier in the year in both Acapulco and Indian Wells.
In March, he played Federer in perhaps the match of the year, seriously. Some of the genius of that match’s tennis took a backstage to the discussion of crowd behavior, including Mirka Federer’s. This is all beside the point, pun intended. That match was simply a brilliant battle of two men at the tops of their games. The scoreline gives us some indication, but you might want to go back and watch the HFE for yourself: 76(9) 67(9) 76(5). 😉
Nadal, all distractions aside, seems to be succumbing a bit to the short-ball, including that tendency to dump balls into the net. He’s so far back, trying to find enough room to stay in a point, but these matches aren’t in the league of those longer, balloon ball, top-spin rallies. Big serves, flatter ground strokes, S & V, and shortened points are in the order of play.
Kyrgios’ BH is the talk of Cincy at this point. For all aspiring tennis players, the simplicity of the stroke is what to look for here. Very minimal take-away and often not much of a follow through, but this kind of flat block gave Nadal fits. The FH was really Nick’s weak link, which Nadal should have exploited. Nick has that tendency to hit the FH CC with a snappy top-spin. It works, obviously, but there’s more moving parts and it stays up, a shot players can track and return. The DTL FH, inside-out, is better. Flatten your FH, Nick, and take control of the tour!
Again, his game is utterly mental when we consider the potential, his age, what a sincere focus on maturity and honing the weaponry would mean to his chances and results, what it would mean to the tour, which is clearly in a transition.
Remember, too: he’s not even 100%, has been receiving medical in recent matches and even retired at the Citi Open a few weeks ago.
The mystery remains: what motivates this crazy talented Nick Kyrgios? Like I said, given the evidence we do have, getting himself into these bigger matches, against bigger talents on bigger stages could be a way to avoid a deep psychological explanation. Just play, Nick.
Hopefully the success of guys like Thiem and Zverev on bigger tour stages will propel Kyrgios; even the success of younger players like Shapovalov, Khachonov and Tiafoe should add some fuel to this hopefully burning desire of the Aussie to get his act together.
At the very least, there will be more opportunities for these runs. The big boys are older and more vulnerable and that’s a fact.
With Dimitrov taking the first set from Johnny Isner in the first SF, we might get to see a Kyrgios v Dimitrov. Recognize the effect this kind of match (and run from both) could have on the events that begin in a little over a week in NYC. 🙂
Dimitrov’s all-court athleticism vs Kyrgios’ demonic genius could be quite the final.
Get it done, boys.