Risk & Reward, Nick Kyrgios Style
After failing to convert three match points at 6/3 in a final-set tie-break, 2017 finalist Nick Kyrgios was faced with the prospect of a disappointing defeat on his return to the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday.
But, after missing his first serve down match point at 7/8, the Aussie produced fearless tennis to navigate his way out of danger. Kyrgios hit a 133mph second serve ace to extend the match and followed it up with a 137mph ace on the following point, before closing out a 6-7(2), 7-5, 7-6(9) win over Denis Kudla, on his sixth match point, after one hour and 58 minutes.
"[In my mind] I don't feel as if I can miss that serve again, so I just go for it," said Kyrgios. "It came off today, but obviously some days it's not going to work. But on days like today, obviously it got me the win.
"I have won a lot of matches doing that... It's high percentage for me. My serve is my best shot. It's high percentage to back myself and go for those serves under pressure. Sometimes you're going to lose, and most of the time, if you back yourself, you win the match."
The Brisbane International presented by Suncorp titlist improved to 20-9 at tour-level in 2018, avoiding a defeat which would have seen him drop 590 ATP Rankings points on 20 August. Kyrgios defeated David Goffin, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer en route to his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final last year in Cincinnati.
"It's always good to get a win at a tournament that you know you did previously pretty well in... I'm just happy to get through," said Kyrgios.
Despite struggling with his movement at times during the first-round encounter, Kyrgios hit 61 winners, including 39 aces, to record his seventh win in 10 matches at the Ohio-based event. The World No. 18 improved his FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Kudla to 2-0, having also won their only previous encounter at the 2015 BNP Paribas Open.
Kyrgios will face Gerry Weber Open titlist Borna Coric for a place in the third round. Coric won 83 per cent of service points and saved both break points he faced to cruise past Daniil Medvedev of Russia 6-2, 6-3 in 70 minutes.
Coric and Kyrgios are tied at 1-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, which includes their most recent encounter in Cincinnati. Two years ago, Coric defeated Kyrgios 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(6) in the Round of 32.