Nick Kyrgios’ Wild Wednesday @MutuaMadridOpen
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Wednesday saw a packed line-up at the Mutua Madrid Open, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray taking centre stage.
However, it was a young Australian who stole the headlines today.
Nick Kyrgios vs Roger Federer
Nick Kyrgios has added another big name to his impressive list of wins, after coming from a set down to beat Roger Federer in an epic on Manolo Santana.
The 20 year old saved multiple match points in a marathon tiebreak that needed 26 points to finally be settled.
Kyrgios couldn’t have asked for a better start. The young Aussie broke in the opening game of the match to give himself an early lead.
The lead lasted until 5-4, where Federer upped his game and broke back. The set then went all the way to a tiebreak, where Federer romped to a 7-1 victory. There was some controversy, as an over-rule on Kyrgios’ first serve caused a debate between the 20 year old and the chair umpire. Kyrgios was later given a code violation warning.
With momentum on his side, Federer broke early in the second set and looked in control. However, Kyrgios had other ideas, and soon found himself level in the set. Like the opener, the second set went all the way to a tiebreak, but this time the result was different. Kyrgios raced into a 5-0 lead, and had multiple set points at 6-2. Federer managed to save three of them, but on the fourth attempt Kyrgios held strong.
The match was finely poised heading into the decider. The service games were quick, and no break points were to be found. It was only fitting that it would end with yet another tiebreak.
Federer (Photo: Niall Clarke)
Despite the crowd being firmly on the side of Roger Federer, Kyrgios drew first blood in the breaker. Federer recovered the mini break, and it stayed with serve until Kyrgios got the mini break at 8-8. However he couldn’t convert, much to the delight of the pro Federer crowd. Kyrgios would get another opportunity to serve for it again at 13-12 and this time he made no mistake.
It was an incredible match from the 20 year old Aussie. One he described as the biggest of his career, and that includes a victory over Nadal at Wimbledon last year.
“It was exciting.” Said Kyrgios. “I found it tough to get some sleep last night, knowing I was going out there.”
“But before the match I wasn’t nervous or anything, I was just excited to get out on court. I have been playing well recently on the clay, so I knew I had a good chance to go out there and do well. I just stuck to my game and served well, and I got the win.”
“I think this was my best win. He has proven he is the best, he can play on any surface, and he’s the leading grand slam winner. It’s definitely ranked one in my best wins.”
Post-match, Federer commented on Kyrgios’ ability to play on the big stage, and rise to the occasion.
“He likes the big stage, and he has nothing to lose. He has no fear and has a great game, and he can rely on his serve to keep him in the match regardless of how he plays from the baseline. All he needed to do was string a few good shots, and a few good points together, and that’s all that really matters. No doubt about it, he’s impressive.”
Federer also stated “I couldn’t return his first serve.” It was a weapon that Kyrgios thought was a key to his victory today.
“My serve is my weapon. When I am serving well and got a good rhythm on my serve, I think it’s tough for anyone to find their rhythm out there. Even against Roger I thought I served well, especially in the second and third set. I think that was key today.”
Kyrgios also spoke about rising to the occasion in big matches.
“I guess it’s why you play the game. To play on these big courts against these big players. He’s the greatest of all time no doubt, and when you grow up watching these players, you just want to go out there and face them.”
Kyrgios will go on to face John Isner in the next round. As for Federer, he doesn’t yet know if he’ll play Rome next week.
Rafael Nadal got his tournament off to a good start. The defending champion defeated Steve Johnson 6-4 ,6-3 on Manolo Santana.
On the women’s side, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova were all in action.
Maria Sharapova vs Caroline Garcia
The Manolo Santana proceedings opened up with the defending champion Maria Sharapova facing a tough battle against Caroline Garcia. Sharapova had never lost to the Frenchwoman in three meetings prior to this match.
Throughout the duration of the first set, it didn’t look like that would change. The Russian broke at 1-1 to secure an early lead, but Garcia quickly broke back to level proceedings. The third consecutive break re-stablished Sharapova’s lead at 2-2. From there it was looking like it would be all Sharapova, who broke against at 4-2, before serving the set out successfully.
Fortunately for the spectators, Garcia didn’t give up the fight, and what proceeded was a rugged battle until the end. Sharapova’s serve was under more scrutiny in the second set, and Garcia was holding more frequently and comfortably. The Frenchwoman got her reward at 3-2, breaking the Sharapova serve. The lead only lasted one game, as an ever game Sharapova broke straight to love. The match stayed on serve for a couple of games, though at 5-4 Sharapova came under pressure from her opponent. The Frenchwoman’s shots were finding their mark, and she broke for the set at 5-4 to take us to a decider.
For the umpteenth time, Sharapova found herself in a three set battle. The world number three fought off break points at 2-1 with some clutch play before finding herself with a break opportunity in the following game. Garcia proved resilient as she saved the break point with a big ace out wide. Sharapova upped the pressure as the set went on, and the resistance of her opponent was finally broken at 5-5. The defending champion then served out the match to claim victory after a long two and a half hour battle.
Speaking in her post match press conference, Sharapova said: “In the third it really just came down to a few points. She (Garcia) was the much more aggressive player in the third set, and she was going for a lot.”
“I could have had a higher percentage of first serves, but even on good second serves she stepped in and hit some really good shots, so there was not much I could do.”
“My intention was to get in the points on her serve, not go for so much on the return, and be a little more patient. I think at the 5-5 game it really helped me.”
Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka
Immediately following the Sharapova vs Garcia marathon, was another interesting clash on Manolo Santana. World number one Serena Williams faced former world number one Victoria Azarenka.
The opening set passed by miraculously without a single break point. Neither player could make any impression on the others serve, and therefore a tiebreak was needed to settle the opening set. Serena found herself a double mini break and 5-1 down in the breaker, but the world number one proved why she is the best by reeling off six straight points to take the opening set.
The first break point of the match mustered up the first break. Williams looked like she may go on and take control from here, but Azarenka had other ideas. The Belarusian came from 40-15 down to break back and level the score in the second set. Things then turned, and soon Azareenka found herself serving for the set after breaking Williams at 4-3. She did it successfully, after a failed drop shot attempt by Williams.
The third set was expected to be tight, and a battle and thus it was. Although what happened, is something nobody would have predicted. Serena broke early in the set, although her lead was soon cancelled out at 3-1. At 5-4, Williams found herself with a match point on Azarenka’s serve, but the Belarusian held on to save it. The following game, the world number 31 broke the serve of Williams, and thus gave herself the opportunity to serve out the match. It was not long before Azarenka found herself 40-0 up and with three chances to seal the match. Unfortunately for Vika, the tightened up, and missed her chances to finish it there. One shot missed by millimetres, and the fine margins in tennis came to the forefront once again. The set went to a tiebreak, where Serena took advantage of a depleted Azarenka to easily win the tiebreak 7-1. If only the whole match was that easy.
“I think overall it was a great match.” Azarenka said post match. “ I think the only negative part is the result.”
“On the last match point, the matter of winning or losing was like 1 centimetre. But I got to try and look at the positives.”
Elsewhere in the women’s, Petra Kvitova brushed aside Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-4. Irini Begu meanwhile beat Barbora Strycova 6-4, 6-4. Caroline Wozniacki continued her good form with a straight sets victory over Agnieszka Radwanska. The world number five faces Maria Sharapova next. Out on Manolo Santana Svetlana Kuznetsova overcame Sam Stosur in three sets 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 in another long match. Carla Suarez Navarro kept Spanish hopes alive with a 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 win over Ana Ivanovic. Lucie Safarova was also victorious over Roberta Vinci.
The last match to take place on Manolo Santana was a Munich final rematch between Andy Murray and Phillip Kohlschreiber. The Brit got the better of the German in Kohli’s home country in a match full of rain delays. Murray managed to yet again defeat Kohlschreiber in three sets, although this time he finished it off in much simpler fashion, 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.
On court Sanchez Vicario, David Ferrer got his Madrid campaign off to a winning start with a 6-4, 6-0 win over compatriot Albert Ramos. Grigor Dimitrov then came from behind to defeat Fabio Fognini to set up another clash with Stan Wawrinka. One of the Spanish hopeful’s Feliciano Lopez was dumped out in two tiebreak sets by Leonardo Mayer. Fortunately for the home crowd, Marcel Granollers was on hand to upset Gael Monfils 7-6, 6-7, 6-4. Out of all the marathons of the day this was longest, lasting over three hours. The final match on the second court featured world number five Kei Nishikori against David Goffin. The Japanese star needed three sets to beat the Belgian, and his reward is a Manolo Santana match against Roberto Bautista Agut.
There was plenty of action on the outside courts, with the likes of Jo Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych and John Isner in action. The big serving American needed three sets to get past Thomaz Bellucci 7-6, 6-7, 6-1. Tsonga on the other hand was pushed all the way by Jack Sock, but eventually the Frenchman overcame the American 6-3, 1-6, 7-6. Berdych had less trouble with Richard Gasquet. The Czech came through 7-6, 7-5 out on court 4. Luca Vanni’s run was halted by compatriot Simone Bolelli, who came from a set down to claim victory.
Thursday, we will see if Kyrgios can back up his win over Federer as he faces John Isner. Rafael Nadal faces Simone Bolelli. There is an all-Spanish affair on Manolo Santana as David Ferrer goes up against Fernando Verdasco. There is plenty of action on Sanchez Vicario and Stadium 3, with Dimirov vs Wawrinka and Tsonga vs Berdych being feature matches.
On the women’s side it’s quarter final day. Caroline Wozniacki vs Maria Sharapova is the highlight of four matches. That match will start things up on Manolo Santana. That is followed by Carla Suarez Navarro vs Serena Williams. Elsewhere Petra Kvitova faces Irina Begu, and Svetlana Kuznetsova faces Lucie Safarova.