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Kyrgios Knocks Out Rublev To Reach Third Round Of Miami Open

Mar 26th 2022

Kyrgios knocks out Rublev 6-3, 6-0 to reach the third round at Miami Open

What should have been a blockbuster second-round match was just a bust. In less than an hour, Nick Kyrgios dismantled world #7, Andrey Rublev to reach the third round of this Masters 1000 event.

Rublev, just twenty-four years of age, was in search of his first Masters 1000 title having lost the championship match twice last year (Monte Carlo & Cincy). He has had a fabulous start to the season, winning back-to-back titles in Marseille and Dubai and reaching the semis last week at the Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells, losing to eventual champion, Taylor Fritz.

Kyrgios, the predictably unpredictable Australian, came to Miami with a lot of confidence and a main draw wild card. He may have lost at his home slam in the third round to an in-form Marin Cilic, but he clinched the doubles title with good friend and compatriot, Thanasi Kokkinakis. He earned the opportunity to play the young Russian after defeating the versatile and challenging lefty, Adrian Mannarino in straights.

Last week in Indian Wells, Kyrgios took eventual finalist Rafa Nadal to the brink before capitulating 6-7, 7-5, 4-6. For most of that match he endeared himself to the crowd but following a slew of obscenities and a tossed racquet in the direction of a ball boy, was fined a total of 25,000  by the ATP.

Reuters Photo

This was their third tour-level meeting, splitting the previous two, both on hardcourt. Rublev won the toss and elected to receive. Kyrgios made 2/4 first serves and held at love for 1-0 and Rublev returned the favor, holding at love for 1-1.

Kyrgios faced three deuce and two break points and dumped serve following an outstanding forehand down the line pass. Rublev failed to consolidate and gave back the break following a whiffed inside-out forehand and a double fault on the last two points.

The former world #13 opened the fifth with a brilliant crosscourt backhand and with his first ace, consolidated the break for 3-2. Rublev opened the sixth with a 131mph serve up the tee, but it was all for naught as he committed three consecutive errors to drop serve for 2-4.

The twenty-six-year-old from Canberra hit a crisp backhand volley and two consecutive aces to hold to 30 for a commanding 5-2 lead. Rublev, serving to stay in the set, opened with an ace and with a remarkable forehand half-volley off the return, held to 15 for 3-5.

Kyrgios opened the 9th with an ace and closed with another to secure the set 6-3. No one would have speculated that the 5th seed would fail to win another game. He served first in the second and with his third double fault and a ripped return from Kyrgios, dumped serve for the third time in the match.

Kyrgios continued to pummel any second serves he was fed and at this stage of the match already was stuffed. The Aussie faced a break point in his opening service game but with spot serving and his 6th ace, managed to consolidate the break for 2-0. Rublev, dropped serve for the second time this set despite hitting two additional aces and was issued a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct after smashing his racquet. Kyrgios opened the fourth with his 7th ace and with his 8th and a monster serve up the tee, held to 30 for 4-0.

The match had been played at a fast clip from the start, but now seemed even faster given Rublev’s inability to neutralize his opponent’s potent power.

The clock was ticking but his serve was not clicking. Rublev struck a 128mph ace down the middle but missed 3/6 first serves and dropped serve when his opponent crushed the forehand return.

The six-time titlist served for the match and a spot in the third round. Kyrgios struck two additional aces and three consecutive winners, including a superb backhand volley to secure victory in under an hour.

This was a clinical and surgical gutting of a formidable opponent. Nick Kyrgios played with poise, conviction, and an unwavering focus. This match came down to the serve; who had the highest percentage and who won more second serve points. Rublev was subpar on both metrics and without question, it cost him the match. Kyrgios, however, put on a serving clinic making 80% of first serves and winning 70% of first and 45% of second serve points.

Next up, is the fiery but supremely talented Italian, Fabio Fognini. This should be a spectacular match between two combative and versatile players. Kyrgios won their only tour-level meeting 6-3, 6-3 three years ago in the third round in Miami.

Fognini, currently ranked #36 should not be underestimated. He won his first and only Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo in 2019 and that season achieved a career-high ranking of #9. The 34-year-old will be eager to even the head-to-head and school his much younger opponent so set your DVR for this one should not be missed.