By McCarton Ackerman
Throughout the year, EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com is featuring players who could make an impact during this year's Series. Here’s a look at 19-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios.
The Baseline: A former world No. 1 junior and currently the highest-ranked teenager on tour, Kyrgios has been enjoying a breakout year in 2014. He’s won three challenger titles in the last two months, including the $100,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Sarasota, Fla., and the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Savannah, Ga. Kyrgios also won his opening-round match at the Australian Open.
But it’s been the recent fortnight at Wimbledon where the talented Aussie made tennis fans stand up and take notice. Taking advantage of a wild card into the main draw, he fought off nine match points in his second-round defeat of world No. 13 Richard Gasquet. After the win, former Wimbledon champion and fellow Aussie Pat Cash boldly branded Kyrgios as “the future of tennis.”
After then defeating Jiri Vesely of Czech Republic, he played the match of his life in shocking world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the fourth round before falling in four close sets to Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals. Because of his performance in London, he will enter the Top 70 when the latest rankings are released next week.
The Breakdown: At 6-foot-4, Kyrgios relies primarily on a big serve to set up his potent forehand. He employs an aggressive baseline game, but his relative lack of a Plan B can prove costly when he’s having an off day.
Although this summer will mark the first time that he competes in the Emirates Airline US Open Series, Kyrgios enjoyed success in the US Open last year. He came through qualifying for the first time at a Grand Slam before giving a strong account of himself in a first-round loss to No. 4 seed David Ferrer.
But given his success on American clay courts this spring, it’s clear that Kyrgios enjoys playing stateside. With his form over the last few months, he’ll arrive in North American this summer as a dangerous floater that none of the top players will want to face in the early rounds.