Novak Djokovic has twelve Grand Slam titles and has participated in over 900 tennis matches but Nick Kyrgios did something that has never been matched before but two players in Roger Federer and Fabrice Santoro have come close.
On route to defeating the world number two in their first meeting on the tour Djokovic astonishingly only won 20.5% of return points which is a career high low but how did the Australian pull this off?
The score line suggests it was a close one at 7-6 7-5 but return wise Novak just didn’t get a sniff and that’s say it all!
14 unforced errors
45/53 first serve points won
15/20 second serve points won
At the end of the match Kyrgios only won 9 more points than Djokovic but Novak was just not involved at all.
25 aces is simply mad! If for example four straight points win a game then that makes 6 games which is enough to win a set.
Kyrgios was never under pressure on serve, he got the ball in and would just camp on the baseline and couldn’t be beaten hence the 41 winners and little number of unforced errors against a player like Djokovic.
So, let’s have look…
You may look at this and think, ok what is this showing? So I have split the service box into three. Now the best shot for Kyrgios on serve is the serve out-wide which effectively means it’s the worst for Novak. Serve out wide gives Kyrgios more control if rally were to be extended.
So now the percentages…
Kyrgios played the percentages well. The serve out wide is always more effective it leaves less margin for return as shown below.
Kyrgios rarely would look to go to the body and down the T would walk into Novak’s two handed backhand and good connection would not be ideal for the Australian but the Novak just couldn’t commit to the serve out-wide and you can see from his body position he doesn’t know what to do and 25 aces speaks for itself. Kyrgios’ serve was outstanding but Novak should have and could have done more.
To stand in the middle of the court as shown above is just asking for trouble but so long into the first set shows Novak was a little unsure and maybe unprepared for what he was facing. This position Novak is in sits perfectly to return the serve down the T or body serve but if (and he did) Kyrgios went out-wide it would be virtually impossible for Djokovic to even find the time to rotate his body and return the serve.
Overall it wasn’t the best preparation from Djokovic but big credit to Kyrgios even once the serve was in play and rallies went on he held his own quite easily in all honesty and nullified any attack on serve made by the former world number one.