A phenomenal serving display from Nick Kyrgios on Wednesday saw him end Novak Djokovic’s 19-match winning streak at the BNP Paribas Open with a 6-4, 7-6(3) victory in the fourth round at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
"I think beating Djokovic for anyone is a pretty big win, especially for me," said Kyrgios. "I knew it was going to be a tough battle today. I knew after Acapulco he wanted to come out there and win. I thought it was a pretty good match. I played the crucial points pretty well. Obviously I just served well again. It was good to get through."
Five-time former champion Djokovic had won the title in the desert the past three years, with his last defeat coming against Juan Martin del Potro in the 2013 semifinals. But his campaign ended at the hands of an inspired Kyrgios, whose serve did not let up throughout the one-hour, 52-minute contest.
It is his second win in three weeks over Djokovic, after his victory over the Serbian in the Acapulco quarterfinals, where again his serve was too hot to handle for the World No. 2. The Canberra native is only the second player, after Lleyton Hewitt, to beat Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in their first tour-level meetings.
"The run was amazing. I am very proud of it, obviously," said Djokovic. "It had to end at some stage. Unfortunately, it was today.
"Nick, again, as he did in Acapulco earlier, he served so well. Just wasn't managing to get a lot of balls back on his serve, first and second, as well. So I guess that's what made a difference."
The path forward doesn’t get any easier for Kyrgios in the ‘Group of Death’ as he next faces Roger Federer. The right-hander is bidding to reach his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semifinal, after reaching the last four in Miami last year (l. to Nishikori).
The 21-year-old Kyrgios showed flashes of his best tennis in a straight-sets win over #NextGenATP star Alexander Zverev on Tuesday and brought his A-game again against Djokovic. The Australian broke Djokovic in the first game of the match and had chances for a double break in the third and seventh games.
He was credited for his strong serving in his victory over Djokovic in Acapulco, and again was dominant behind his delivery, losing only seven points in the first set – just two behind his first serve. He closed out the opener with his seventh ace of the contest.
Djokovic was afforded no break point opportunities in the second set and fended off two from Kyrgios in the 11th game to force a tie-break. The Australian dominated, though, clocking one serve at 141mph, and closing it out with another huge serve that Djokovic could not return.
Since winning the Doha title against Andy Murray at the start of the season, Djokovic has failed to reach the semifinals in his following three tournaments, suffering a shock second-round defeat to Denis Istomin at the Australian Open. The Serbian notched his 300th Masters 1000 win on Tuesday when he overcame Juan Martin del Potro in three sets.