PETE ZIEBRON in CINCINNATI
Due to excessive rain on Thursday at the Western & Southern Open, Nick Kyrgios, along with several other players had to play both their third round match and their quarterfinal matches on Friday. The young Australia prevailed each time as he defeated Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 4-6 7-6(6) 6-3 and # 1 in the world to be Rafael Nadal of Spain 6-2 7-5.
Unlike some players, Kyrgios and Karlovic were indeed able to play some of their match on Thursday. As play was stopped for rain the initial time, the score stood at 2-all. Following the next delay, Karlovic led 4-3 as both players held serve each time. Eventually at 11:10 PM, play was called for the night and a revised schedule was issued calling for doubleheaders to be played for the winners of fourth round matches.
Kyrgios would be broken for the only time against Karlovic as he served to stay in the first set at 4-5. After the match he elaborated on the change of conditions: "Coming back today, had a very slow start. It was very windy out there, so I couldn't get anything going on my serve."
Nick Kyrgios frustrated by the game of Ivo Karlovic as the Croat celebrates a key point. Photo Courtesy: Christopher Johnson, Grand Slam Magazine
There were no breaks of serve in the second set and Kyrgios would withstand 13 of the 28 aces that Karlovic would hit in the match in the middle set. Each player held serve comfortable as none of the twelve games played reached deuce. The Aussie won the final six points of the tiebreaker to win it 7-1 and level the contest at a set apiece.
On his third break point opportunity of the fourth game of the final set, Kyrgios would break the Croat in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Each player continued to hold serve comfortably until the ninth game as Karlovic served to stay in the match. Kyrgios was unable to convert either of the two break opportunities and then served out the match at love to advance to the quarterfinals in a 9 PM Center Court contest against Rafael Nadal, who will return to world #1 for the first time in three years on Monday.
Against Nadal, Kyrgios broke to start the match, held at love, broke at 30 and held at 15 to race to a 4-0 lead, winning 16 of the first 20 points played in the match. Nadal would begin to settle into the match as each player held comfortable and Kyrgios took the opening set 6-2 in just 25 minutes.
Rafael Nadal, who will return to world #1 on Monday, getting fired up against Nick Kyrgios. Photo Courtesy: Christopher Johnson, Grand Slam Magazine
Following a restroom break by Nadal between sets, the Spaniard attempted to slow the pace of the match and Kyrgios complied, taking significantly longer before serving. Playing quickly as he prefers, or a slower style of play that was happening in the second set did not seem to matter each way for Kyrgios as he broke Nadal in the fifth game and then consolidated to take a 4-2 lead in the set.
As Nadal served to stay in the match at 3-5, the game reached deuce twice before the Spaniard sealed it with his fourth and final ace of the match. Kyrgios would double fault a couple of times as he attempted to serve out the match and would be broken, given Nadal new life in the match. However, Nadal would be broken at love and Kyrgios would serve out the match at 15 to advance to his first Masters 1000 semifinal in his promising career.
Next up for Kyrgios is the resurgent 35 year-old Spaniard David Ferrer, a finalist in Cincinnati three years ago. Kyrgios is aware of the potential dangers in playing Ferrer: "It's going to be a tough battle. He's a great competitor.....Looks like he's playing much better now than he was last year.
I know that he's feeling confident. To beat Dominic (Thiem) in straight sets....He's playing good tennis against good players. I know it's going to be tough." The match will begin at 7 PM and round out the day on Center Court a the Western & Southern Open on Saturday.