A potentially high quality match-up for this grass court final. Both players know their respective ways around this elegant surface.
Nick announced his arrival on tour by beating Nadal at the 2014 Championships R16, ironically. He was deprived of the opportunity to play him in today’s other SF because the Spaniard withdrew from the tournament. This should be another win in the Kyrgios column in these players’ H2H, for what that’s worth. But statisticians treat such retreats, legitimate or not, as non-wins/losses. Go figure, which explains how (in)consequential this kind of chickenshit behavior is even when the stakes are so high.
Speaking of H2Hs (a favorite topic of ours), Kyrgios is 2-0 vs Djokovic. A little context: both occurred in 2017. Recall that Novak was in one of his infamous dips in form at that time. He peaked in 2016 with the Novak Slam, ending that historical run at 2016 Roland Garros, beating Murray in the final. Beginning at 2016 WB, he began a months-long (year plus) descent into one of those nearly inexplicable vanishing acts (we have covered the referenced Djokollapse pretty extensively).
In 2017, Kyrgios beat Novak in Acapulco in February and then a few weeks later at Indian Wells. I remember the IW match was R16, the winner to play Federer in the QF. Federer was flying that year; Novak, interestingly enough, never played that ascendant 2017 Federer, when he won AO, WB, the Sunshine Double and Shanghai.
Needless to say, Novak is in better form this time around, we’re on grass, Djokovic vying for his 7th WB title, and the Bo5 will pose all sorts of circumstantial differences compared to Acapulco and Indian Wells.
Therefore, you have to like Novak in this match. His mental strength and the potential collapse of Nick’s ability to focus, stay calm, and execute a plan in a grand slam final both reach this same conclusion.
The thought on Kyrgios pulling-off an upset in Sunday’s final goes as follows: his serve is a massive weapon even though he is playing one of, if not the best ROS of all-time. But we know how significant a big serve on a surface like this can be. Nick’s is practically unplayable when he’s in form on that shot, not to mention his SS can stay in that 120mph range. His serve is his main weapon, for sure. If he’s in that 28-30+ ace kind of form, wow. Who knows. But that’s a big ask, especially given Novak’s ROS genius.
Secondly, we’ll reiterate the importance of Kyrgios staying composed, focused, patient, etc., in a potentially long (Bo5) match. Another big ask. There are ebbs and flows in matches like these. He’s running a marathon. He can’t treat this like a 10k.
Lastly, the crowd could play a role (will play a roll). They are going to be supporting Nick Kyrgios from the outset. No need to go too much into the anti-Novak sentiment in the live tennis congregation, but it exists and Nick, for reasons that are beyond us all, is a kind of lovable underdog, quite often. If the Aussie starts to tank, then he’s done and the crowd piles on. But if he has a crowd, stays in front with big serves and solid, smart rally points, and keeps his cool, there could be quite a momentum to his game that might really trouble Djokovic.
Nick needs to be brilliantly mature and effective.
Novak will fight like hell given the obvious circumstances.
Could be a classic.