Venue: Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Southern California
Category: ATP Masters 1000
Date: March 18, 2017
Time: 12.30am IST
Channel: Sony ESPN, Sony ESPN HD
Live streaming: Sony Liv/Sony Liv Youtube
(9) Roger Federer (Rank: 10) vs (15) Nick Kyrgios (Rank: 16)
Head-to-head: Kyrgios leads 1-0
Last meeting: Kyrgios won 6(2)-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(12) at the 2015 Madrid Masters Round of 32
Four-time Indian Wells champion Roger Federer played one of the most dominant matches of his career to prevail over his long-time nemesis Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-3 in a stunning display. From start to finish, the Swiss maestro played perfect tennis, never relinquishing his lead and never ever allowing the Spanish southpaw to settle into the match.
It once more proved his passion for the game and the hunger to keep on chasing for the biggest titles of the sport even at the age of 35.
He has returned to the sport with renewed energy after a six-month hiatus during which he recovered from a knee surgery. That was evident at the Australian Open where he rode high to his record-breaking 18th Slam title. The former World No. 1 is playing freer, more aggressive and is not afraid to take his chances.
His third consecutive victory over Nadal, who has plagued him for most of his career, surely has elevated his confidence level.
But now the challenge is different. Federer now faces an opponent, who has the advantage of a gigantic service and massive groundstrokes. Nick Kyrgios is young, raring to go and definitely not intimidated by the prospect of facing the legends of the sport. His wins over Nadal, Djokovic and Federer himself, corroborate it.
His recent dismantling of none other than Djokovic and that too twice in a row has been nothing short of spectacular. If tennis fans were hoping that the World No. 2 would be eager to exact revenge after his Acapulco defeat to the Australian, they were in for a shock. The result was once again in favour of the 21-year-old and that too in straight sets. It made him the first player in eight years to topple Djokovic in back-to-back matches on the Serb's best surface - hardcourts.
That performance earned him plaudits from even Federer.
Can he hold up against the 18-time Major winner if the Swiss continues to attack as brilliantly as he did against Rafa? After all, he does have the experience of edging Federer in a tight three-setter a couple of years ago.
That said, lack of consistency has been one of Kyrgios' biggest disadvantages. To do it in consecutive matches over two of the most accomplished figures will need oodles of courage and conviction in his game. This undoubtedly is Kyrgios' sternest test.