Djokovic outgunned by Kyrgios

Novak Djokovic chases down a forehand against Nick Kyrgios in their Mexican Open quarter-final in Acapulco yesterday. Kyrgios served 25 aces to wrap up an 7-6 (11-9), 7-5 win. The mercurial Australian is now in his second ATP semi-final in just two w
Novak Djokovic chases down a forehand against Nick Kyrgios in their Mexican Open quarter-final in Acapulco yesterday. Kyrgios served 25 aces to wrap up an 7-6 (11-9), 7-5 win. The mercurial Australian is now in his second ATP semi-final in just two weeks.PHOTO: REUTERS

Big serve the key to straight-sets victory as world No. 2 continues to flounder after Melbourne loss

ACAPULCO (Mexico) • Australian bad boy Nick Kyrgios shocked Novak Djokovic in straight sets at the Mexico Open yesterday, dealing a blow to the world No. 2's hopes of regaining his aura of invincibility.

Kyrgios overpowered Djokovic with 25 aces in the 7-6 (11-9), 7-5 win as the Serb sought to rebuild his confidence after his second-round loss at January's Australian Open.

"It was an incredible match," the world No. 17 said. "I had one of the best serving matches of my life."

The Australian, letting his tennis take centre stage instead of his tantrums, won 81 per cent of his first-serve points as he dominated his first match with Djokovic.

Djokovic fell in the Australian Open to Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin, and did not play again until this week. He managed two wins - against Slovak Martin Klizan and Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro - before losing in the quarter-finals.

Kyrgios delivered another giant-killing performance as he also beat Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in their first meetings on the ATP Tour. The 21-year-old is the youngest player to record victories over the tennis "Big Five" - Djokovic, Federer, Nadal, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka - and is now 11-17 against top 10 players.

"It's what I dreamed of as a little kid, playing on these great venues against some of the greatest players in the world," he said. "I never have a problem getting up for these matches."

He will be seeking to reach his first final of the season when he faces big-serving American Sam Querrey in the semis. Nadal will face Croatian Marin Cilic in the other semi-final after defeating Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6 (7-2), 6-3.

Djokovic was terse after the defeat, addressing the media for mere seconds.

"Not great," he said, referring to how he felt. "He has a great serve, I hope he wins. Congratulations."

World No. 1 Andy Murray narrowing avoided an upset of his own at the Dubai Duty Free Championships on Thursday. The Scot saved seven match points in the second set of his quarter-final against Philipp Kohlschreiber before sealing a 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (20-18), 6-1 victory in 2hr 54min.

So dramatic was the second-set tie-break that the umpire forgot to tell the players to change ends. At 15-15, Murray and Kohlschreiber should have switched ends, which is meant to happen after every six points. But it required a reminder from the Briton two points later for the French umpire Renaud Lichtenstein to realise his error.

"The umpire said that he forgot, and also his machine didn't recognise it," Murray said. "I don't know if the machines are made to go that high, because it doesn't happen very often."

It was the longest tie-break at a main Tour-level event since Frenchman Jo- Wilfried Tsonga won one - also 20-18 - against American Andy Roddick at the 2007 Australian Open. No ATP Tour match since 1991 has featured a tie-break of more than 38 points, despite six reaching that number.

The quality of the tie-break, and much of the encounter, was summed up by German Kohlschreiber, ranked No. 29, calling it "the best match of my life".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2017, with the headline 'Djokovic outgunned by Kyrgios'. Print Edition | Subscribe