Federer falls under Kyrgios spell in Madrid exit
Ten months after the then 144th-ranked Kyrgios overwhelmed Rafa Nadal in the Wimbledon fourth round with a fearless brand of tennis, the Australian showed that he is a force to be reckoned with on clay too.
Now ranked 35th on the back of contesting his first ever ATP final in Estoril last weekend, Kyrgios brought an abrupt end to Federer’s hopes of winning a fourth Madrid trophy with a heart-pumping 6-7(2) 7-6(5) 7-6(12) victory.
“I think he’s the greatest of all time… I knew before the match that I would have to play one of the greatest matches I have ever played, I wasn’t intimidated at all,” the remarkably composed 20-year-old said courtside following his victory in two hours 37 minutes.
“It doesn’t really feel real at the moment. It’s a strange feeling… it’s pretty exciting.”
While Kyrgios was celebrating what he called “definitely the greatest win of my career”, Federer was condemned to his earliest exit in 11 visits to Madrid.
On the day he had hoped to celebrate the first birthday of his twin boys Lenny and Leo with a routine victory, the world number two was first rankled when Kyrgios broke him in the opening game of the match.
The irritation went up a few notches as he was heard snapping “We need a clown for this circus” when the second set slipped away from his grasp under a barrage of aces and crunching baseline winners.
Facing an opponent who was just eight when he won the first of his record 17 grand slam titles in 2003, Federer wasted two match points in the tension-filled third set tiebreak.
Instead Kyrgios was the one holding his arms aloft in victory after he wrapped up the contest on his sixth match point when Federer slammed a forehand wide.
Following a disappointing season in which he has claimed only one low-key title, Nadal went back to using his old racket model to record a 6-4 6-3 win over American Steve Johnson.
He was joined in the third round by Tomas Berdych and 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov but U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic followed Federer out of the exit door after a 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 6-3 defeat by Fernando Verdasco.
Kei Nishikori also progressed with a 6-2 4-6 6-4
victory over Belgian David Goffin, while second seed Andy Murray rounded out the day’s action with a 6-4 3-6 6-0 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber.
(Writing by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ed Osmond/Nick Mulvenney)