Roger Federer found an imperious vein of form to crush tennis rebel Nick Kyrgios in the biggest men’s match of Labour Day Weekend.
Federer pulled all the strokes out of his kitbag for an ecstatic audience on Arthur Ashe Stadium, including a range of delicate drop shots. The best one of all, though, was a flick around the netpost which reduced Kyrgios to open-mouthed admiration.
The result was that Federer raced to a 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 victory in just 104 minutes against a demoralised Kyrgios, who at one point could be heard shouting “I need to hire a coach”. Federer’s reward was a very winnable-looking fourth-round match against another Australian – the less gifted but more focused John Millman.
Kyrgios came out full of hope against a man he had previously taken to the wire in each of their three meetings on the tour. There was cheek, too, as he performed an imitation of the Federer service action while leading 40-0 in the fourth game.
Playing his first best-of-five set match against this dangerous, unpredictable and bolshie opponent, Federer began nervously, shanking his first backhand way out of court and struggling to time the ball off that wing for the first 20 minutes or so. But all that changed after the vital seventh game of the match.
This one found Federer slipping to 0-40 on his own serve. But he wriggled out of danger, saving four break points, and after that let-off he settled into his work.
Kyrgios had been serving fast and accurately but with almost no variation. When he stepped up at 4-5 he found Federer anticipating where the ball was going. The result was a chopped return on set point that outflanked Kyrgios as he charged forward to the net.
Kyrgios was so demoralised by this setback that he went into a funk in the second set, giving up the first five games in only 20 minutes. But that was not a true reflection of his ability, and during the third set, the huge crowd was able to enjoy the thrilling sight of both players performing well at the same time.
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