Playing sport for a living is brilliant; there’s no better office to work in. But the roller coaster of stress and emotion makes it tougher than your average job.
Earlier today, Nick Kyrgios beat Sacha Zverev at Indian Wells. In doing so he had to deal with the pressure and expectation of the fans and media asking whether he is indeed the best of his generation. He did it well; that was the most intense and concentrated that I have seen him on tour to this point.
Last week he beat Novak Djokovic, and completed the impressive feat of having defeated Roger, Rafa and Novak at the first attempt. That is a huge accomplishment in itself, but is perhaps made a little easier because there was no expectation on Nick to win those matches. It’s easy to be the one with nothing to lose; you can swing as hard as you like and if it goes in, perfect.
I suspect Novak will be up for this fourth round with Nick like no other match in the past six months. His win against Del Potro was impressive because he had to absorb big serving and power hitting, exactly what Kyrgios is going to throw at him.
This match will be different for Nick. There is an expectation that he is on a charge, and will be able to conquer anyone in his path at Indian Wells. That might well be the case, but this match will be a huge test of what he is capable of – and exactly where he is mentally.
We all know that he wears his heart on his sleeve, but if he can beat Novak back-to-back it will be the biggest statement in his career yet.
For Nick to win he will have to be prepared to fight, be discipline with his shot selections, play longer rallies, leave skin and blood on court if necessary and prove to himself (more than anyone else) than he can back his previous win up. That’s not easy when you haven’t done it before at this level.
As always with Nick, it’s going to be compulsive viewing!
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