Say What? Kyrgios Says HE Was The Disciplined One Today
It seems that there are limits to Nick Kyrgios’ free-wheeling, casual-as-you-like approach to tennis.
Facing off Friday at the Miami Open against Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik, the Australian said his game plan was to show some rarely seen restraint and let the 21-year-old light up the highlights reel while he walked away with a 7-5, 6-3 win.
“I know he’s a player who tries to keep things on his own terms… kind of reminds me of me a little bit," said a jovial Kyrgios after the match. "He just needs to play those bigger points with a little more discipline. Strange me saying that…
“I thought he was going to put me on a couple of highlight reels. I knew he was trying to at some stage. I knew I had to be the disciplined one of the two today.
“There’s one other player like that, Dustin Brown, and you have to go out and be the more solid player and hope they fight themselves a little bit. He missed a couple of shots on break point that were insane to go for. I just stayed solid."
Kyrgios dug deep to save all seven break points he faced against Bublik. Serving at 30/40, 5-all in the first set, Kyrgios produced a spectacular inside-out forehand drop shot winner, followed on the next point by a 101 mph crosscourt forehand winner to get himself out of trouble. But, after the match, he still deferred to his opponent's shotmaking.
“He’s seriously fun to watch and he was fun to play against. It was a very competitive match but at the same time it was good for the crowd, very entertaining. I want all the best for him and I think he can be very good for the sport.
“I feel I go for things that are just makeable and he goes for things that are not makeable. It’s a lot of fun. He’s got an absolutely huge serve. He goes for big second serves. Imitation is the first form of flattery. He must love me a little bit. He lives and dies by the sword. He goes for big shots, goes for drop shots, very flairy.”
Kyrgios next meets Serbian Dusan Lajovic, who rallied from a set down to upset fifth seed Kei Nishikori 2-6, 6-2, 6-3. Kyrgios beat Lajovic 6-4, 6-1 in the second round of Miami last year in their only prior meeting.
“He definitely knows how to play and beating Nishikori is a very hard task. I’m not going to underestimate him at all. I dealt with him pretty easy here last year, but I know he’s more than capable of winning tennis matches.”
Kyrgios reached the Miami semi-finals in his first two appearances in 2016-17 and last year fell to eventual finalist Alexander Zverev in the fourth round.
Did You Know?
In 2017, Kyrgios pushed Roger Federer to three tie-break sets in the Miami Open semi-finals.