Will talent wait its turn or jump in line?
Reclaiming his Promise Versus Staking a Claim
Kei Nishikori had a breakout moment in 2014. He had beaten Roger Federer in Miami and pushed Nadal hard in Madrid in 2014. However, his 4 set US Open semifinal win over Novak Djokovic had many seeing Nishikori as a contender for the top tier of the sport. Marin Cilic quickly dispatched Nishikori in the championship round, and despite dominating Memphis, Kei has never again been quite as close to the top level of the sport.
Nick Kyrgios has made a lot of news in tennis due to both his explosive power and his explosive personality. At a Nike tennis photo shoot, Pete Sampras went out of his way to tell Kyrgios to behave after an ugly incident last summer. Pete doesn’t typically insert himself into anyone’s business so one hopes Nick absorbed this lesson. Many people are trying to identify a younger player who will eventually displace the current order on tour. Kyrgios perhaps answered that question in 2014 when he beat Rafa in 4 sets at Wimbledon, but many have pointed to Coric or Thiem or Raonic or other players under 25 before pointing to Kyrgios. This stems in part from Nick saying he is not sure he loves tennis. Boris Becker had similar Hamlet style musings about tennis. Becker won a lot, but he never dominated the tour so maybe Kyrgios unsure relationship with tennis itself makes us hesitant to tab him as most likely to be the next king of the sport.
This match is going to come down to a few things. Kei is an excellent returner and this surface is slow. Does that mean Nick’s serve will be under pressure or will the Aussie have enough power to serve through the slow court? Kyrgios’ paralyzing power could push Kei deeper into the court than he would prefer. Can Kei hold his ground or will he have to scramble and pray for errors?
My Prediction: I think Nick plays a clean enough match to push Kei deep into the court and hold serve with relative ease. Nick Kyrgios d. Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4