After failing to convert three match points at 6/3 in a final-set tie-break, 2017 finalist Nick Kyrgios was faced with the prospect of a disappointing defeat on his return to the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday.
But, after missing his first serve down match point at 7/8, the Aussie produced fearless tennis to navigate his way out of danger. Kyrgios hit a 133mph second serve ace to extend the match and followed it up with a 137mph ace on the following point, before closing out a 6-7(2), 7-5, 7-6(9) win over Denis Kudla, on his sixth match point, after one hour and 58 minutes.
The Brisbane International presented by Suncorp titlist improved to 20-9 at tour-level in 2018, avoiding a defeat which would have seen him drop 590 ATP Rankings points on 20 August. Kyrgios defeated David Goffin, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer en route to his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final last year in Cincinnati.
Despite struggling with his movement at times during the first-round encounter, Kyrgios hit 61 winners, including 39 aces, to record his seventh win in 10 matches at the Ohio-based event. The World No. 18 improved his FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Kudla to 2-0, having also won their only previous encounter at the 2015 BNP Paribas Open.
Kyrgios will face Gerry Weber Open titlist Borna Coric for a place in the third round. Coric won 83 per cent of service points and saved both break points he faced to cruise past Daniil Medvedev of Russia 6-2, 6-3 in 70 minutes.
Coric and Kyrgios are tied at 1-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, which includes their most recent encounter in Cincinnati. Two years ago, Coric defeated Kyrgios 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(6) in the Round of 32.
Did You Know? After reaching his maiden tour-level final on clay at the 2015 Millennium Estoril Open, each of Nick Kyrgios’ six tour-level final appearances have come at hard-court events.
Federer, Tsitsipas, Kyrgios Begin Cincinnati Campaigns On Tuesday
Shapovalov, Raonic, Sock also play on day three
View FedEx ATP Head2Head for the Rogers Cup & vote for who you think will win! Goffin vs. Tsitsipas | Edmund vs. Shapovalov | Sock vs. Chung
Seven-time former champion Roger Federer headlines action at the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday, which also includes 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung, last week’s Rogers Cup finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas and last year’s Cincinnati finalist Nick Kyrgios.
Federer, who turned 37 on 8 August, contests his first match since losing to Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon semi-finals on 11 July. The Swiss superstar is looking to win his 28th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown and begins his campaign in a first-time meeting against German Peter Gojowczyk during the evening session on Center Court. He has lifted the trophy in 2005, 2007, 2009-10, 2012, 2014-15 and has a 42-8 match record at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
Federer is currently in third position in the ATP Race To London for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November. He has a 29-4 record this year, which includes titles at the Australian Open (d Cilic), the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament (d. Dimitrov) and the MercedesCup (d Raonic).
Buy Your London 2018 Tickets
Chung starts off proceedings on Center Court at 11 o’clock local time against American Jack Sock, who is bidding to break a seven-match losing streak that dates back to 2 May at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia (d. Ferrer). The 22-year-old Chung has reached back-to-back Masters 1000 quarter-finals this year at the BNP Paribas Open (l. to Federer) and Miami Open presented by Itau (l. to Isner). He has a 20-9 on hard courts in 2018 (22-11 overall).
NextGenATP Greek Tsitsipas makes his Cincinnati debut against No. 11 seed David Goffin, who has gone 2-4 since reaching the Roland Garros fourth round (l. to Cecchinato). The 20-year-old Tsitsipas, who is currently 11th in the ATP Race To London with a 30-9 record on the season, beat four Top 10 players — Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Kevin Anderson — last week before falling to Rafael Nadal in the Toronto final.
You May Also Like: Brad Gilbert Breaks Down Stefanos Tsitsipas’ Game
Two of the sport’s most exciting talents, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios and Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, are both due to play on Grandstand on Tuesday. Kyrgios, who reached his first Masters 1000 final in Cincinnati last year (l. to Dimitrov), plays American qualifier Denis Kudla, who is coming off a quarter-final at the Citi Open two weeks ago, while Shapovalov faces No. 14 seed Kyle Edmund for the sixth time in the past 18 months. Both of their meetings this year — at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp and the Mutua Madrid Open — went to three sets.
Elsewhere, 2014 and 2016 semi-finalist Milos Raonic faces Serbian qualifier Dusan Lajovic in the first round and Andy Murray’s conqueror, 16th seed Lucas Pouille, meets Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.
The former World No. 4 examines the Greek’s strokes and intangibles
#NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas went on a magical run at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, beating four Top 10 opponents en route to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final. And if you ask 20-time ATP World Tour titlist Brad Gilbert, Tsitsipas is only on the way up.
“I thought before this week, if he could finish the year in the Top 20 [of the ATP Rankings], it would be a really good effort. Well all of a sudden now he’s 11th in the [ATP] Race To London, and I’m sure he’ll play quite a bit, so it’s not out of the question, especially if he could make a deep run at the US Open,” said Gilbert of Tsitsipas possibly qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals.”
“I put the over-under at 7.5 for 2019,” Gilbert said of where he expects the #NextGenATP star’s ranking to be. “It’ll be interesting.”
Tsitsipas has yet to win an ATP World Tour title, falling short in his second championship match on Sunday in Toronto. But Gilbert wouldn’t be surprised if the 20-year-old is victorious at Masters 1000 events in the future.
“Why not? He’s elevated himself to No. 2 for me right now in the 22 and unders. He beat four Top 10 players in a row. I know that [Alexander] Zverev let that one get away when he was dominating him at 6-3, 5-2 [in the quarter-finals],” Gilbert said. “But I was incredibly impressed with the [Novak] Djokovic match, when he didn’t drop serve against Djokovic. Djokovic hadn’t had any matches this year before that when he didn’t break serve.”
So how has Tsitsipas positioned himself as one of the hottest players in the sport? Gilbert examines Tsitsipas’ strokes and intangibles:
Forehand So many guys have great inside-out forehands. It’s a tough shot to control when you go well outside the doubles alley and then try to bring it inside the court. But that’s the shot he beat Zverev with and he has an incredibly versatile forehand. He can go inside-out, inside-in, he hits a really good approach. There’s a lot to build on with his forehand. And I think as he gets stronger, that shot’s only going to get bigger. His ability when he hits inside-in [is also important] because most guys go inside-out. When he hits it you’re not expecting it and that’s only going to make his inside-out better. So I think the forehand is off the charts.
Juan Martin del Potro hits it harder and flatter and he also hits it better on the run. One thing Tsitsipas can improve a lot is when you make him hit it in a stationary position, he doesn’t absorb pace that well. Delpo absorbs pace really well with his forehand. If you leave anything short to him, it’s good night, Irene. He could have every bit as good of a forehand if not better, but at this point I can’t see his forehand as better than Delpo’s.
One thing that impressed me was how well on the run he could scramble. He’d hit little squash shots back, flick shots below the net and his ability on big points to play the inside-in or take a forehand and come in is impressive. He’s got a lot of confidence on that shot, which is a great sign for someone his age. Maybe he has the best forehand in the game in a few years.
Backhand I think as he gets stronger, he’ll be able to handle the high ball more. His swing looks so familiar, like a combination of [Grigor] Dimitrov and [Roger] Federer. A lot of his shots look like a combination of those two players’ shots. Very visual on the serve, forehand and backhand, but especially on the serve and the backhand.
I want to see once in my lifetime, all the two-handers learn to play with one. I want to see one of these one-handers learn to hit a two-handed backhand return. I think that’s something that’s a possibility. But I do think that’s one shot he could improve a lot. Federer has by far the best backhand return of any of the single-handers because he has a great block return that’s almost like a backhand volley. I think that Tsitsipas can add that to his game. I think that’s the most important return for a one-hander, because you can’t blunt the power and take a full swing at it like two-handed players can.
Volleys He keeps the racquet in front of him and he has nice, good technique. He has a good understanding of how to finish points at the net. He knows how to run through floaters, and he has good instincts at the net. For his age of 20, that’s a good sign and I think he’ll only get better.
I remember watching Rafa [Nadal] win in 2005 in Canada on a fast court, and he was 19 when he beat Andre [Agassi]. The first thing that struck you besides the physicality, besides his forehand, was ‘Man, he knows how to finish points at the net’. Saying that about Rafa at a young age, that was a good sign. So the fact that Tsitsipas knows what he’s doing at the net and knows how to finish points, that’s something to really build on. You don’t see that often from young players. He’s got great feet and soft hands. That’s a lot to build on.
Serve There’s no doubt that his second serve could improve and I’m sure it will. That’s why I think he has a lot of upside in his game to grow. I think that shot could dramatically improve and I think it will. To be a Top 2 player in the world and win Grand Slams and win a bunch of [Masters] 1000s, you have to hit that big and be more aggressive with it. I think that he has a lot of room to grow his game, which is a great thing.
I’d have to go to the practice court, but I think more than anything his toss goes a bit left, it gets a little bit spinny and it gets a little short and then the MPHs get a little bit low. Amazingly, he was winning a high percentage of second-serve points the entire tournament.
He can learn from another shot that I always talk about with Federer. A reason why he has 20 Grand Slams, he has an amazing second serve. He has a huge second serve. Pete Sampras had a beautiful serve. At Tsitsipas’ size, if you have a fearless second serve, that’s one of the greatest shots to have. It can help the potential of your game grow to a whole other level. If he could hit his second serve 105 to 110 miles per hour, and he can move it around, then things are going to happen for him.
Movement and Intangibles He moves outstanding. Looking at him, more than anything, he’s 6’4”, I think he can get stronger, I think he’s closer to 6’5”, I think he moves great and I think he could dramatically improve his second serve and his first serve. I think he has a lot of upside. I think his biggest goals between 20 and 22 is to just keep getting better. I think he could improve his serve and his defensive capabilities are off the charts. I think that he’s way ahead of the curve for his age is because he volleys really well.
I thought [his resilience] was off the charts last week. But I need to watch him more than a one-week sample size to say what he’s going to be in a year or two from now, playing majors and in best-of-five sets. It was a great sample size this week. The most impressive part of his tournament was after he lost that second set to Djokovic, he kept himself together unbelievably and didn’t drop his serve the whole match. I thought that was by far the most impressive thing from the tournament for me.
Serena Williams marked her return to action after missing the Rogers Cup in Montreal with a comprehensive 6-1 6-2 victory over Daria Gavrilova.
The former world number one and 23-time Grand Slam champion withdrew from the event in Canada citing “personal reasons” and later explained she was struggling with her emotions following the birth of her first child in September.
Williams suffered the worst loss of her career earlier in the month when she was defeated 6-1 6-0 by Konta, but said she knew she would play “a zillion times better”.
The American was much improved against Australian Gavrilova, hitting 27 winners and eight aces on her way to a comfortable win.
She will play Czech world number six Petra Kvitova in the next round.
Victoria Azarenka, another former world number one, beat Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro in three sets while US Open finalist Madison Keys beat fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4.
Djokovic Needs Nine Match Points To Close Out Cincy Opener
Serbian seeking his first Western & Southern Open title
Tenth seed Novak Djokovic was tested by home favourite Steve Johnson in his Western & Southern Open first-rounder on Monday evening. But the 30-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titlist, after failing to convert his first eight match points in the second set, eventually advanced 6-4, 7-6(4) to start his Cincinnati campaign.
“I thought I had patches of the match where I played pretty good,” said Djokovic. “I thought that I should have closed it [out] earlier, but credit to him for fighting, fighting back, playing some good points when he needed to, [with] big serves. Overall, I’m glad that I managed to close it out in straight sets, because it was becoming quite a battle, two hours, two sets.”
Djokovic rebounded well from his third-round loss at last week’s Rogers Cup to Greece’s #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas, the eventual finalist. The Serbian broke in the 10th game in the opening set and then rode that momentum to jump to a 3-0 lead in the second set against Johnson.
You May Also Like: Vintage ‘Stan The Man’ Ousts 12th Seed Schwartzman
But the American raised his level, winning the next four games, including two breaks of serve. Johnson brought one of the break points with a down-the-line forehand that he hit from his shoestrings. He then broke in the fifth game with a run-around forehand return that Djokovic tried to retrieve but lost his racquet in the process.
Finally, the 10th-seeded Djokovic, after coming up short on five match points in the ninth game of the second set, hit a crosscourt forehand winner on his ninth match point.
Cincinnati is the only ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event missing from Djokovic’s Masters 1000 trophy case. The 30-time Masters 1000 titlist has won all other eight Masters 1000 titles and has reached the Cincinnati final five times (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015). He and Johnson were meeting for the first time.
Djokovic will next meet Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. The former No. 1 leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-0, including a straight-sets win earlier this year at the grass-court Fever-Tree Championships.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.