Federer and Kyrgios give the tennis world a week to celebrate with their incredible volleys and drop shots
- A look back at the two ATP 500 tournaments from last week - Dubai and Acapulco - where Federer and Kyrgios emerged victorious.
A legend waiting to add another feather in his cap, and a rebel in the sport who was never liked by his peers because of his attitude towards the game. These two people were the winners of two ATP 500 tournaments that took place simultaneously in Dubai and in Acapulco last week.
Let's break down each tournament.
ATP 500 Dubai Duty Free Championships
When Roger Federer announced his comeback to Dubai earlier, everybody felt that this was a chance for Federer to claim his 100th title and enter the record books alongside Jimmy Connors. But considering the form the Swiss was in during the last leg of 2018 and at the 2019 Australian Open, that wasn't a given.
The start was not too great for Federer. He struggled during the initial rounds against Philipp Kohlschreiber, Fernando Verdasco and Marton Fucsovics.. The first two of those three matches went to a deciding third set, and Federer struggled to get past each player.
In the semi-finals, Federer faced Borna Coric, who was exhausted from his quarter-final match against Nikoloz Basilashvilli. That match had gone on for more than two hours and Coric's game was completely worn out by the time he faced Federer.
The 20-time Slam champion eased past Coric, bringing out his best groundstrokes and volleys when it really mattered.
In the other semi-final, Stefanos Tsitsipas was facing Gael Monfils. Monfils had made a strong comeback by winning Rotterdam after defeating Stan Wawrinka in an epic final. Tsitsipas, meanwhile, was looking fatigued during the course of the match as struggled with a leg injury.
But the tables turned during the third set as Tsitsipas was able to pull off a hard-fought victory; the match lasted for over two and a half hours.
The stage was set for the final, and many considered it to be a revenge match between Federer and Tsitsipas. Federer couldn't be called a sure-shot winner as he was shocked by Tsitsipas just over a month ago.
The Swiss had to change his strategy to win against Tsitsipas. His return, especially on the second serve of Tsitsipas, was exemplary during the entire match. He looked to hit it deep by both driving and slicing it, and approaching the net every chance he got.
Federer served well too, facing just two break points in the entire match - both of which he saved. He finally defeated Tsitsipas 6-4,6-4.
ATP 500 Mexican Open - Acapulco
Any tournament featuring Rafael Nadal would almost always make him the favorite. Nadal was the favorite in Acapulco too, but that was not to be the end result.
Along with Nadal, there was also Stan Wawrinka in the draw; the Swiss was looking for his first title in more than a month.
But leaving those top players behind was Nick Kyrgios, who won the title after defeating Nadal, Wawrinka, John Isner and Alexander Zverev.
Nobody expected Kyrgios to perform to his potential in Acapulco. He was down three match points against Nadal, seemingly on the verge of yet another defeat. But a drop shot at 3-6 (in the tiebreak) which scraped the net and landed on Nadal's side of the court changed the course of the match.
That was followed by a double fault from Nadal, and Kyrgios eventually won the match on his first match point.
Sure, there was plenty of drama involved, with Kyrgios even trying an under-arm serve that received a lot of flak after the match was done. Nadal himself said that Kyrgios didn't respect the crowd, the opponent or even himself.
But Kyrgios played through all the negativity around him in the next match against Wawrinka. There were bullet forehands and some great drop shots in that match, which helped him reach the semifinal. He then defeated Isner to enter the finals.
In all these matches, Kyrgios never dropped his level even when he was losing his mental stability at times. He continued to play some of his best tennis, no matter what the situation.
This maturity was in sharp evidence even in the final. For a moment or two, the crowd witnessed a different Kyrgios than the one they loved to hate. There was composure throughout the match, and this coupled with some fantastic drop shots landed Kyrgios a much-deserved title, thereby taking his count to five.Published 05 Mar 2019, 16:21 IST