World #16 Nick Kyrgios got the best of 20th ranked Alexander Zverev in a tight, action-packed three set match 6-4 6-7 (9) 6-3 Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the Miami Open. It was their second match in the last couple of weeks, with Kyrgios prevailing in straight sets at Indian Wells. The match was full of great tennis back and forth between two of the elite young stars of tennis. Kyrgios’ temperament issues are well-known, but it was the 19-year-old Zverev who was fiery, snapping a racket with his foot midway through the match, and arguing with the chair about a replayed point in the third set. Kyrgios has had several incidents with other players, namely his comments at Stan Wawrinka during a match last year, but yesterday found himself in an unfamiliar role as the older player in a high-profile match. That showed in several moments, highlighted by midway through the first set when he recommended that Zverev challenge a ball on the baseline that ended up going against Kyrgios, a respectable display of sportsmanship and maturity. Kyrgios was even more impressive on the court, not facing a single break point throughout the entire match, and pulling off four ridiculous forward tweeners, winning 3 of those points and thrilling the crowd. Not to take anything away from Zverev, who played great tennis, and save for a few unforced errors in key moments could have swung the match in his direction. Already with a title in Montpellier this season and a top-20 ranking as a teenager, Zverev will be a mainstay at big tournaments, especially considering the successes of other big servers such as Milos Raonic, John Isner, and the ageless Ivo Karlovic. Kyrgios continues his impressive 2017 campaign following the quarterfinal appearance at Indian Wells where he beat Novak Djokovic, improving his record against the “Big 3” to 4-1, and consecutive semifinals in Acapulco and Marseilles. Watching two of the best young players on tour battle on a big stage was a treat, and these two will likely be battling for Major titles a few years down the road.
Is this real life?
In the other men’s quarterfinal on Thursday, Roger Federer continued his incredible comeback by defeating Tomas Berdych in three sets, after saving two match points down 6-4 in the 3rd set tiebreak. Although a difficult loss, the match was somewhat encouraging for Berdych as he entered having lost 14 straight sets to Federer, and 16 straight sets in Masters 1000 quarterfinal matches. Federer continued to impress with his remodeled game at age 35, although he showed a vulnerability on serve that has been rare in 2017. This sets up a semifinal meeting that would have been the rematch of the Indian Wells quarter where Kyrgios fell ill and withdrew from the tournament before the match. They have played once before in Madrid on clay, where Kyrigos won in three tiebreaks. Kyrgios has an immense amount of talent, and is able to upset top players on any given day, but he has also shown mental weaknesses causing him to fail under pressure. Federer may continue his dominance, or if Kyrgios wins this match and potentially the tournament, this could serve as the beginning of a changing of the guard to the new generation.