Kyrgios triumphs again

Australian maintains unblemished record against Djokovic, will meet Federer next

INDIAN WELLS (California) • Nick Kyrgios overpowered Novak Djokovic for the second time in as many weeks to book an Indian Wells quarter-final against Roger Federer, who swatted aside old foe Rafael Nadal.

Kyrgios put on another stellar serving display in a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) triumph on Wednesday that ended the three-time defending champion's 19-match winning streak in the first Masters tournament of the year.

Federer, who added another chapter to a storied rivalry with Nadal with an epic Australian Open triumph in January, dismantled the Spaniard 6-2, 6-3. It was the first time since their first meeting in 2004 that Federer and Nadal had met before the quarter-finals of a tournament.

An oddity of the rankings had them and Djokovic - with 44 Grand Slam titles between them - all in the same quarter of the draw.

World No. 2 Djokovic was the first to fall, in the face of relentless aggression from the world No. 16.

"The run was amazing," said the Serb, who also won in Indian Wells in 2008 and 2011 before going on his roll from 2014-2016.

Nick Kyrgios hitting a "tweener", or a return between his legs, on the way to a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) win against Novak Djokovic at the Indian Wells Masters on Wednesday. The Serb was bidding for a fourth straight title in the Californian desert, but fell t
Nick Kyrgios hitting a “tweener”, or a return between his legs, on the way to a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) win against Novak Djokovic at the Indian Wells Masters on Wednesday. The Serb was bidding for a fourth straight title in the Californian desert, but fell to the Australian for the second time in less than a fortnight. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

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    Nick Kyrgios won 14 of his 27 second serves, the aggressive nature of which, he said, is a feature of his game.

"I am very proud of it. It had to end at some stage.

"Unfortunately, it was today."

Kyrgios could not repeat the 25 aces he rained on Djokovic in a shock win in Acapulco this month. But 14 aces were sufficient as he kept the Serb off-balance.

"That felt good to kind of prove it wasn't a one-off thing," said the 21-year-old, who did not face a single break point.

"It felt good to back it up again."

Kyrgios added that his aggressive second serve is a cornerstone of his game. "It's a high percentage for me to go big under pressure," said the Australian. "That's my game style. If I miss, I miss, but I know I went down playing my game."

A break in the first game of the match was enough to give Kyrgios the opening set.

Djokovic saved two break points late in the second set as they battled to the tiebreaker which Kyrgios dominated, sealing the win, fittingly, with a final monster serve.

Kyrgios, already the youngest player to record victories over Djokovic, Federer, Nadal, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, now gets another crack at Federer, who needed just 68 minutes to dispatch Nadal.

Federer broke Nadal to open the match, and seized a second break and 4-1 with a blistering backhand service return winner. A forehand volley sealed the set, and another forehand winner put the Swiss up a break at 2-1 in the second.

Federer was firmly in control as Nadal served to save the match at 5-3. An unlucky netcord bounce, when Nadal's forehand clipped the net and rolled back, gave Federer two match points, and with a backhand return down the line, the 36th meeting between the two was his.

"For me, it was all about coming out and trying to play the way I did in Australia," said Federer, who beat Nadal in a five-set thriller to take the title at Melbourne Park in January.

"I didn't think it was going to be that possible, to be quite honest, because the court is more jumpy here or more rough, let's say, so it's hard to put the ball away."

"In Australia was a very close match," Nadal said. "I had good chances to win. Today, not. Today he played better than me. These kind of matches, when you're not playing your match, it's impossible to win."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2017, with the headline 'Kyrgios triumphs again'. Print Edition | Subscribe