In what was expected to be the highlight match of the third round at the 2018 US Open, Nick Kyrgios and Roger Federer took the court in the Arthur Ashe Stadium with the fans hoping to witness a five-set thriller between the two competitors. However, the 20-time Major champion proved to be too good and consistent amongst the two, strolling to a relatively comfortable win with a commanding 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 scoreline after just an hour and 44-minutes.
Federer was simply firing on all cylinders after blasting 51 winners and committing just 24 unforced errors, while Kyrgios could not find his best tennis throughout the majority of the encounter, committing 35 errors and winning just 63 percent of his first serves — an extremely disappointing statistic for the talented Australian.
Federer managed to out-ace his younger counterpart and impressively broke serve on four different occasions while keeping his serve throughout the match. Despite looking shaky on his second serves, the Swiss maestro lost just eight points on his first serves, sending down 16 aces to grab the quick and easy win in straight sets. This is also the first match between Kyrgios and Federer match which did not feature a tiebreak.
Federer storms to the win
In a set where Federer claimed just 31 percent of his second serve points, Kyrgios had his chances but failed to convert them. A marathon 10-minute game on the Swiss’ serve was crucial and ultimately proved to be match-changing as the Australian wasted four break points, which turned out to be his only break point opportunities in the match, and Federer held on for 4-3. Just when it mattered, Federer stepped up his play and closed out the set 6-4 with a backhand winner.
Kyrgios was visibly frustrated with his level of play, and when asked about it during his post-match press conference, he mentioned that it was all about the pressure. “You know, got to the business end of the first set, crucial moment. Played a terrible service game. Didn't make any first serves. Just it was tough. I knew how important that first set was. He loosened up straight away after that. He started playing some shots that we all know, you know, he can make. All the pressure was off him. He's an unbelievable frontrunner. When he gets in front, there's not much you can do.”
From there, it was one-way traffic as Federer loosened up and was playing some exceptional tennis, being absolutely unstoppable. Within a blink of an eye, he stormed towards a commanding 5-0 lead but before Kyrgios could even react, he closed the deal with a 6-1 scoreline after just 21 minutes of play. It was some flawless play from the second seed, who hit 16 winners and just three errors.
Definitely, the seventh game in the first set when Federer retrieved from a 0-40 deficit to hold was pivotal. “I know if I can somehow dig myself out of that game, I don't know how I got into the Love-40 game, into the Love-40 position, it's just huge to try to get out of it somehow,” quoted the world number two. Certainly, that hold was huge as the momentum steered towards him and Kyrgios failed to find any chances to break serve in the remainder of the match.
The third seed was just a series of service holds as Kyrgios finally seemed to have found some rhythm on his serves, but what stood out was Federer’s stunning volley winner in the seventh game which left the crowd, and even Kyrgios, in awe. The 30th seed even joked about it, “Yeah, it was unbelievable. I'm probably going to place it on Instagram.”
A costly forehand error at 40-15 in the eleventh game saw Kyrgios losing the plot and was broken to gift Federer the golden opportunity to serve out the match. Closing the match out in style with an ace, the 2008 champion secured his safe passage into the fourth round where he will face the unseeded John Millman.