The match of the day at the BNP Paribas Open was supposed to be Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal: Part 36. Instead, it was one of the most lopsided showings. Even the showdown of Kei Nishikori and world number 60 Donald Young Jr. was closer.
The match between Gael Monfils and Dominic Thiem was also a letdown. For a match between two of tennis’ most exciting stars, the level of competition was low. The Austrian absolutely wrecked his opponent. Monfils lasted just 68 minutes before falling, 6-3, 6-2.
Through eight matches, fans were also treated to another masterful performance from rising star Nick Kyrgios. Today’s victim was former world number one Novak Djokovic. There was also a strong showing from lucky loser Yoshi Nishioka against Stan Wawrinka and a tightly-contested battle between Malek Jaziri and Jack Sock that went the distance. Pablo Carreno-Busta opened the round of 16 with a 6-4, 7-6(5) victory over Dustin Lajovic.
Federer-Nadal matchup doesn’t live up to hype
Coming into the match, Nadal lead the head-to-head 23 to twelve, but the past two meetings were won by the Swiss legend.
Instead of an exciting sequel to the 2017 Australian Open final, the match completely favored Federer. The world number ten absolutely smothered his opponent. Although Nadal is used to playing defensively and battling his way through these types of matches, he couldn’t get anything going against the barrage from his opponent. After just 67 minutes, Federer advanced to the quarterfinals, 6-2, 6-3.
Kyrgios upsets Djokovic
Another barrage came from the racquet of Kyrgios. This tournament has gone nearly perfectly for the Australian. Prior to today’s match, the world number 15 hadn’t dropped a set, been broken, or even faced a break point.
Kyrgios opened the match with a break at 30. He nearly broke again in the third and seventh games, but his opponent held on. However, Djokovic was unable to break back and lost the first set, 6-4.
The second set was a different story. Neither player broke serve, though Kyrgios had two chances, so the set went to a tiebreak. In this game to seven, the 21-year-old quickly took a 6-2 lead and won the match two points later.
In the match, Kyrgios also ripped this backhand winner.
This is another big win for Kyrgios as he climbs the ranks as one of the premier rising stars. He finally seems to have outgrown his immaturities that often leaked onto the court. Now that he means business, he has a legitimate chance to move into the top-10 this year and begin chasing world number one.
As for doubles, the young star was unable to ride the hot streak as he and his partner Nenad Zimonjic were dismantled by Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, 6-1, 6-3.
Three Matches Go the Distance
Another young player to show out in this tournament has been Jack Sock. After a marathon match against Grigor Dimitrov the night before, Sock squeezed past Jaziri, 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-5.
Nishioka was able to get the better of Wawrinka for a set, but a second set comeback from the world number three leveled the score heading into the third set, 3-6, 6-3. The third set saw Nishioka open with a break and jump out to a 2-0 lead. He rode that break to a 5-3 lead, but Wawrinka was able to break back and level the score at 5-5. The last two games saw the two competitors trading breaks to send the deciding set into a tiebreak.
Despite an exciting point won by the lucky loser, there wasn’t much Nishioka could do to slow down Wawrinka. The Swiss star took the tiebreak, 7-4.