When the ATP launched its #NextGen campaign in March 2016, Nick Kyrgios and Alex Zverev were among the young guns front and centre of the posters and graphics.
Exactly a year on, they met for the first time on tour on Tuesday at Indian Wells.
They actually played at the Hopman Cup in 2016; although not an officially sanctioned match, it was a three-set barnstormer.
It also gave us a taste of what might be to come from two players widely tipped to rule at the top of the game and win Grand Slam titles.
When they faced off at Stadium 2 at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday, Kyrgios outclassed Zverev to storm into the fourth round.
“I don’t think I served that well today, actually. I felt I wasn’t serving my best, so I thought I just competed well,” Kyrgios said.
“It was always going to be a tough match. He’s been playing great tennis and on the rise ever since juniors. It was a tough battle. I’m just really glad to get through.”
Kyrgios wowed fans with some audacious shot-making in a 6-3 6-4 over the German teenager who, at 19, is the youngest player in the world’s top 20.
Australia’s No.15 seed broke Zverev three times while being untroubled on his own serve throughout the 72-minute encounter.
“I think I enjoyed it. I think there were some points where everyone enjoyed it. I thought he was playing some great shots. The crowd enjoyed. You know, I was enjoying it,” Kyrgios said.
Until last week, Zverev had been the only player to beat Roger Federer in 2017 but he had to play second fiddle to Kyrgios from the outset in the much-anticipated meeting.
Kyrgios stamped his authority with breaks early in both sets.
Rarely hitting top gear, he struck six aces, won 84 per cent of first-serve points and broke Zverev for a third time to close out the match and set up a last-16 showdown with either Novak Djokovic or Juan Martin del Potro.
“It’s a tough matchup for me either way. I like time. I like to dictate. Delpo takes that away from me. Against Novak, he neutralises my serve,” Kyrgios said.
“I have to play better than both of those guys if I play them. If I win, I win. If I lose, I lose. It’s nothing different.”
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