A locked-in Nick Kyrgios soared to his first Top 10 win in more than two years on Monday night at the BNP Paribas Open. After blitzing through his opening two rounds with the loss of four games per match, Kyrgios levelled up to knock off World No. 8 Casper Ruud.
The 26-year-old’s confidence and concentration level shined through in a 6-4, 6-4 upset that evened his ATP Head2Head against the Norweigan at 1-1. Kyrgios’ all-out attack yielded early breaks in both sets, and he never came close to letting his lead — or his focus — slip in a one-hour, 16-minute victory.
“It was a big one,” said Kyrgios after the match. “He’s a great player, the last two years he’s been playing some pretty great tennis. [But] tonight I played the right style. I’m just super happy at the moment, with my team around me, it’s endless support and I just managed to really play well on the big points today.”
In an efficient performance, the Aussie converted both of his break points and did not face any on his own serve. Kyrgios was never pushed as far as deuce on his own deal, firing seven aces and winning 82 per cent (28/34) of his first-serve points, according to Infosys ATP Stats.
Nick Moves Forward ➡@NickKyrgios ousts Ruud 6-4 6-4 to set up a R4 encounter against Sinner!
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 15, 2022
“I know what I’m capable of,” added Kyrgios. “I think everyone does as well. It’s whether I put my mind to it. I feel rejuvenated. I just feel like I’m here, I’m happy, and I’m just ready to give my all every match.
“I’ve played three pretty solid players who have been playing on a lot of confidence and I’ve won three matches in straight sets. Now there are 16 players left, playing at the top of their game. This is where you want to be, and I just want to keep moving forward, keep my head down and stay positive.”
Buoyed by early leads in both sets, Kyrgios was positive and vocal throughout the contest, pumping himself up at key moments but keeping a very even keel even after some show-stopping winners.
The closest he came to trouble was at 15/30 as he served out the match. But he showcased his variety to close it out in style with an ace, a backhand volley winner and a measured 19-ball rally that ended with a forced error from his opponent.
A seven-time ATP Tour champion, most recently on the Buenos Aires clay in February, Ruud was unable to match his fourth-round run from his Indian Wells main-draw debut five months ago.
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Kyrgios, whose six tour-level titles have all come on outdoor hard courts, has only been beyond the second round at Indian Wells once before. He made the most of that 2017 run by beating Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic to reach the quarter-finals, but withdrew with illness before facing Roger Federer.
In order to reach the quarter-finals this year, Kyrgios will have to get through 10th seed Jannik Sinner, who edged Benjamin Bonzi, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-4, earlier on Monday. Despite never having faced the Italian on the singles court, Kyrgios knows he needs to be ready for a tough battle.
“[Sinner is a] hell of a player,” said Kyrgios. “He’s been playing exceptionally for the last year and a half, hits the ball massive. I actually played him in doubles, and I was blown off the court with how big and how effortlessly he can play.
“I know the style of tennis I need to play as well, but I’m not going to think about that right now. I’m going to go home, enjoy my time, and get some good practice in tomorrow and we’ll see how it goes.”