Indian Wells - Nick Kyrgios's back-to-back victories over
Novak Djokovic at last have the explosive Australian tennis talent in the
spotlight for all the right reasons.
The 21-year-old, whose petulant antics have often
overshadowed his immense skill, overpowered three-time defending champion
Djokovic to book a Friday quarter-final showdown with Roger Federer at the ATP
Indian Wells Masters.
The 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) triumph over Djokovic on the Stadium
Court the Serb had owned for three straight years came on the heels of
Kyrgios's quarter-final triumph over Djokovic in Acapulco.
Kyrgios is the first player in eight years to beat Djokovic
in back-to-back hard court tournaments.
"I'm very impressed him taking out Novak, back-to-back
weeks, on Novak's best surface," Federer said. "It goes a long way
for all the players - not that he needed to prove his point - but I think now
he has really arrived on the scene.
"He's beaten all the guys: Novak, myself, Rafa (Nadal).
It's very impressive."
In Acapulco, Kyrgios fired 25 aces to bring a premature end
to Djokovic's first tournament since a shock second-round exit at the US Open.
His aggressive serve was again at the forefront on
Wednesday, but Djokovic said the 16th-ranked Aussie had plenty to back it up.
"He was playing better from baseline here than he did
in Acapulco," Djokovic said. "So even when I had my chances, when I
was in the rallies, he was just not giving me too many points away, not making
too many unforced errors.
"Undoubtedly he is capable of a lot of big
things," Djokovic continued. "That was projected for him already a
couple of years back. He's not very consistent with his results, but he's
coming closer to the top 10. There is no doubt that he has a big game, and that
game that he has can and should be for a top-10, top-five player. So it just
depends on him and his commitment to the sport."
That commitment has been called into question on more than
He was booed off the court and accused of giving up as he
crashed out of the Australian Open in the second round in January, when he was
making his return from a ban for "lack of best efforts" during a
match in Shanghai this year.
At the time, Kyrgios blamed his Melbourne meltdown on
Kyrgios said this week he was resigned to the fact that his
stormy temperament will never sit well with all tennis fans and commentators.
"I'm the type of person that's going to have a fan
base, and I'm the type of person that have people that don't really like
me," he said. "I'm comfortable with that."
That's because he's found a way to be comfortable with
"I was in a pretty dark place," he said.
"Even I was at 13 (in the world) last year, but I wasn't in a good place
mentally at all. I was beating myself down, and I just wasn't in a good place.
"(Now) I'm just trying to stay happy and just try and
enjoy my tennis a little bit."
Answering captain Lleyton Hewitt's call for Davis Cup duty
was a big step forward in that department, Kyrgios said.
"That was the best thing I could have done, come back and be with the boys, and I found some enjoyment practicing again," he said. "Something switched, and now I'm really enjoying it again."