Nick Kyrgios may be ranked No. 102 in the ATP Rankings, but he didn’t look it on Friday afternoon. The Australian wild card defeated Andrey Rublev, the fifth seed, 6-3, 6-0, to advance to the third round of the Miami Open presented by Itau. Following that, Kyrgios will face Italian Fabio Fognini in a matchup between two of the best shotmakers on the Tour.
“He came out hot at the start and that’s tennis. A couple points could swing a momentum change like that and once I got that double break, I started seeing the return really well,” Kyrgios said. “I’ve been returning well the past four months and I guess when that’s happening, I’m serving the way I’m serving, I’m feeling the way I’m feeling, my shoulders open up and I just ran with it.”
The Australian upset Casper Ruud and Jannik Sinner en route to the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals at Indian Wells, making it his third Top 10 win in a two-tournament span. The six-time ATP Tour champion is now 6-2 this season, with only two losses to Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal.
Rublev came into the match in fine form, having won titles in Marseille and Dubai before reaching the semi-finals in Indian Wells. But Kyrgios never let him settle into a rhythm. On return, the former World No. 13 was extremely aggressive, preventing the fifth seed from gaining control of the game.
Against one of the best players in the world, Kyrgios broke his opponent’s serve five times and won 56% of his return points. The only snag occurred when he was serving for the match. At 40/0, Kyrgios hit an underarm tweener serve that went wide, and the game was over in a flash. The crowd favourite, however, gathered himself and finished the game in just 52 minutes.
“I know that he’s a player who relies on a bit of rhythm, so I just tried to keep the points short and sharp, just play aggressive,” Kyrgios said. “I’m just happy with my performance, whether it’s 7-6 in the third or something like this, I’m just happy to get through.”
After two hours and 51 minutes, Kyrgios’ next opponent, Fognini, defeated Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel 6-7(1), 6-2, 7-6(5).