In what could turn out to be a career-defining fortnight, Nick Kyrgios has produced another stunning performance to oust Novak Djokovic for the second straight tournament.
A week after upsetting the world No.2 in straight sets at Acapulco, 21-year-old Australian Kyrgios backed it up with a stellar 6-4 7-6 triumph in the Indian Wells Masters fourth round on Thursday (AEDT).
The victory, built on another brilliant display of serving including 14 aces, sets up a last eight showdown with another legend of the game. Kyrgios will face either idol Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal next in what’s been dubbed “the toughest draw in history”.
Kyrgios improves his career record against top ten players to 12-17 and joins an exclusive club in beating 12-time grand slam winner Djokovic — one of the most consistent players in this history of the sport — back-to-back.
Kyrgios is the first player in five years to defeat Djokovic twice in back-to-back tournaments but the remarkable numbers don’t end there. He also becomes:
– The seventh player to beat him back-to-back since turning pro – Nadal (three times), Federer (twice), Andy Murray (once), Tommy Haas (once), Fernando Verdasco (once), Mikhail Youzhny (once)
– The first player to beat him back-to-back on hardcourts since Federer (Cincinnati and US Open) in 2009
– The third player to beat him in straight sets in back-to-back tournaments – Federer in 2009, Murray in 2008
* Nadal is the only player to have knocked him out of three straight tournaments (2008)
Kyrgios reached a career-high ranking of 13 last October but he slipped to 17th after a disappointing Australian summer. He’s since moved back up to 16th and while his second straight win over Djokovic doesn’t guarantee any rankings moves, it closes the points gap considerably on those above him.
If Djokovic defeats Federer or Nadal to make the semis he’ll climb to at least 15th. Reaching the final would likely take him 14th while winning it could move him to a career-high ranking of 12th.
Djokovic remains world No.2, well ahead of Stan Wawrinka in third, but this loss is a major blow to his hopes of closing the gap on top-ranked Andy Murray.
The result continued Djokovic’s decline over the past 12 months.
The Serb amassed a startling 44-3 record from the beginning of 2016 to the end of the French Open, including six tournament victories.
Since then, he has managed a rather more modest 33-9 – including a 12-3 record in 2017.
Djokovic’s losses in 2017 included a shock second round exit to world No. 117 Denis Istomin in the second round at the Australian Open.