Australian Open: Fast courts suit Kyrgios ahead of blockbuster against 'super physical' Thiem

By Sports Desk February 11, 2021

Nick Kyrgios has the weapons to overcome the "super physical" Dominic Thiem at the Australian Open on Friday.

The eccentric Australian continued to excite at Melbourne Park with a five-set win over Ugo Humbert in the second round, saving two match points.

Kyrgios, 25, is into the third round of a grand slam for the 15th time in his career, but it has been a difficult hurdle for him to cross. He is 6-8 in the third round of majors, although three of those wins – and just one loss – have come at the Australian Open.

While he has all the weapons, Kyrgios faces third seed Thiem, the US Open champion and last year's runner-up in Melbourne.

"He's probably one of the most physical guys on tour. He's an extremely good player. I have actually seen him progress. He's a bit older than I am. I actually saw him in juniors and then I saw him struggle for a couple years, futures, challies, and then to see him get to the top of the game. It's been actually pretty cool to see him develop and finally find what he needs to do to win matches," Kyrgios said about Thiem after overcoming Humbert.

"He trains like an absolute animal. He's consistent every day. And I actually have a lot of respect for him. I think his style of tennis is not easy to play. He's super physical, but I'm not even thinking about it. Like, I'm just hurting thinking about playing him right now."

He added: "Whatever happens against Thiem happens. I'm going to go out there, serve, play with instinct, and if it's enough, it's enough. If it isn't, I'm all right with that."

With much of the talk at the year's first major focused on the fast courts, Kyrgios' serve will be vital.

The Australian has seen 50 per cent of his first serves in the opening two rounds go unreturned, with 44 aces. He has also served at 72 per cent and won 81 per cent of the points when his first serve has gone in.

Thiem has recorded wins over Mikhail Kukushkin and Dominik Koepfer to begin the tournament, winning 13 of 27 return games. Kyrgios has won eight of 42 return games.

Kyrgios has been among the men more willing to serve and volley to begin the event, playing 26 such points and winning 16. He has also won 39 of 55 net points, while Thiem is an impressive 31 of 36.

Novak Djokovic is among those who have talked about the fast courts at Melbourne Park this year, and the world number one said that would suit the big servers. Thiem said he had never played on courts as fast at a grand slam so far in his career.

"I prefer last year's courts, if I could choose. It's pretty fast, as I said the days before. It's probably one of the fastest grand slam tournaments I've played so far," he said. "Well, we have to get used to it, yes. But if I have to choose, I would choose the last year's condition."

The opportunity is there for the big-hitting Kyrgios, but he will need to be at his best.

Related items

  • Daria Kasatkina defeats Shelby Rogers in the Silicon Valley Classic final Daria Kasatkina defeats Shelby Rogers in the Silicon Valley Classic final

    Daria Kasatkina continued her strong season on Sunday by defeating American Shelby Rogers 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 6-2 in the final of the Silicon Valley Classic.

    Russia's Kasatkina made her deepest grand slam run earlier this year by reaching the semi-final of the French Open, where she lost to world number one Iga Swiatek, and with this singles title – the fifth of her WTA career – she has claimed a career-best ranking of ninth in the world.

    Against Rogers, the story was how the effectiveness of Kasatkina's serve continued to improve the further the match went on.

    In the hard-fought opening set, Kasatkina won just 53 per cent (26-of-49) of her service points, allowing two breaks of serve and then flailing in the tie-break to drop five consecutive points.

    Something changed from that point on, with Kasatkina improving to take 69 per cent (18-of-26) of her service points in the second frame, and that jumped again to 76 per cent (16-of-21) in the decider as she either figured something out, or Rogers ran out of steam.

    Kasatkina did not allow a single break point opportunity after the first set, while converting four of her six chances to take a double-break in both the second and third.

    Rogers had not lost a single set in her four matches to make it to the final, putting the exclamation point on a terrific run from Kasatkina that included wins over world number 27 Elena Rybakina, world number six Aryna Sabalenka and world number three Paula Badosa.

  • Nick Kyrgios wins the singles and doubles titles at the Washington Open Nick Kyrgios wins the singles and doubles titles at the Washington Open

    Nick Kyrgios capped off a terrific week at the Washington Open by beating Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4 6-3 in the singles final, before combining with Jack Sock to also win the doubles 7-5 6-4 against the team of Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek.

    In the singles, Kyrgios' serve was overpowering against his Japanese opponent, winning 76 per cent (38-of-50) of his points on serve, and saving the only break point opportunity he faced, which came early in the opening set.

    His return game was also sharp, collecting breaks of serve in the first game of each set to snatch all the momentum and keep Nishioka on the back foot and chasing all day.

    Kyrgios finished with 12 aces to Nishioka's three, and finished the match just like he started it with a break of serve.

    It caps off a tournament where he dropped only one set in his six matches – against Frances Tiafoe in the quarter-final – to win his first singles title since this same event back in 2019.

    Just a few hours later, Kyrgios was back on the court with Sock contesting the doubles final, with the pair saving both break points they faced. 

    After an even start, Kyrgios and Sock broke late in the first set, and then struck again to break in the opening game of the second set, going on to serve things out comfortably, never allowing Dodig and Krajicek to even reach deuce against their serve.

    In doing so, Kyrgios became the first player to ever sweep both the singles and doubles in Washington.

    He only had one doubles title before this season – back at the Lyon Open in 2018, also partnered with Sock – but Kyrgios has now won three in the past eight months, emerging triumphant with fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis at both the Australian Open and last month's Atlanta Open.

  • Samsonova wins her second career WTA title with Citi Open final defeat of Kanepi Samsonova wins her second career WTA title with Citi Open final defeat of Kanepi

    Liudmila Samsonova secured her second career singles title on the WTA Tour by defeating Kaia Kanepi in the final of the Citi Open.

    Unseeded Russian Samsonova beat Estonian Kanepi 4-6 6-3 6-3 to take the title in Washington on Sunday.

    It was Kanepi, the tournament's sixth seed, who struck first in a tight opening set with strong serving from both players, capitalising on the only break point opportunity in the 10th game.

    While Samsonova won at least 70 per cent of her service points in each of the three sets, Kanepi's effectiveness dipped after the opener, with a 77 per cent (20-of-26) success rate in the first set, which dropped to 63 per cent (15-of-24) in the second and the third (12-of-19) to provide the Russian with an avenue back into the contest.

    Kanepi led 3-2 in the second set, before Samsonova rattled off the next five games, securing a double break in the process and forcing a decider.

    In a tight third frame, with Samsonova leading 4-3, she created three break point opportunities and only needed the first to grab a winning buffer, serving out the match for the title.

    It is the 23-year-old's first singles title since her maiden victory at the German Open 14 months ago, and she only dropped two sets in the process while defeating fifth seed Elise Mertens, second seed Emma Raducanu, China's Wang Xiyu and Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.