Nick Kyrgios produced another masterful serving display to oust three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic from the BNP Paribas Open.
For the second time in a fortnight, Kyrgios beat Djokovic – again in straight sets – to take his place in the quarterfinals.
Having also defeated Djokovic in the Acapulco quarterfinals, his record against the 12-time Grand Slam champion stands at 2-0.
“That felt good to kind of prove it wasn’t a one-off thing. I think I played well. I knew what my tactics were going to be. It felt good to back it up again,” Kyrgios said.
“The conditions are completely different here than they are in Acapulco. I don’t think I served anywhere near as I did in Acapulco. I fought for every point, and … I think both of us were a bit nervous at times.
“I thought it was a pretty good match. I played the crucial points pretty well. Obviously I just served well again. Yeah, it was good to get through.”
In the last eight at Indian Wells, Kyrgios next faces Roger Federer, who swatted aside Rafael Nadal in 68 minutes in their much-hyped fourth-round match.
Kyrgios broke serve in the very first game against Djokovic, capitalising on the Serb’s scratchy start.
It was an advantage Kyrgios maintained for the remainder of the set – with his serve grooved and power damaging from the back of the court, he kept Djokovic off balance and sealed the opening set with an ace.
Djokovic, who’d played his best tennis of the season in beating Juan Martin del Potro the night before in round three, was not enjoying such success on Wednesday.
He was slow to react, his shots were missing the mark and his body language was negative. Kyrgios, meanwhile, produced an incredibly focused, intense display.
Yet despite Kyrgios looking the more likely, Djokovic dug his heels in during the second set. With games going on serve, Djokovic played his most positive stretch of the match in the seventh game – he produced an unreturnable serve out wide for advantage and then closed out the game with an off-forehand winner and a first pump.
Three games later, the No.2 seed appeared to be finally making in-roads on the Kyrgios serve when he reached deuce.
Yet just two points from losing the second set, Kyrgios rose to the occasion, playing brave yet controlled tennis from the back of the court to force a short ball from Djokovic, which he put away with a forehand. He held for 5-5, and it was notable how much he was going for his second serve.
“I have lost some matches from it. I have won some matches from it. I’m okay if I go for it,” Kyrgios said.
“It’s a high percentage for me to go big under pressure. That’s my game style. If I miss, I miss, but I know I went down playing my game.”
Two Kyrgios break points came and went in the 11th game and the set progressed to a tiebreak.
Thanks to a mini-break and more dominant serving, Kyrgios surged to a 3-0 lead. A monstrous second serve ace made it 4-2 at the change-of-ends.
Rattled, Djokovic sent a forehand well long of the baseline, handing Kyrgios a 6-2 lead and four match points.
On his second opportunity, the Australian converted for a resounding victory.
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