Both kids passed their tests Tuesday in Miami, and now they’ll play each other for the second time ever.
Alexander Zverev upset Stan Wawrinka in three sets, improving to 2-0 against the inconsistent slugger. Watching these two exchange heavy backhands was a real joy, but by the end of the match, the top seed looked genuinely deflated and uninterested, as Zverev exhausted him with constant depth from the baseline to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. Maybe Stan realized he’d rather walk off and enjoy his 32nd birthday.
Later that evening, Nick Kyrgios dismissed eight-seed David Goffin, and as the New York Times’ Ben Rothenberg noted, the match presented a pleasing contrast of styles and attitudes. There was Kyrgios, barking at ball kids and linesmen, with his haphazard footwork and raw power that seems to burst from nowhere; then there was Goffin, always silent, with a fastidious, feline game, all quick feet and technically pristine strokes. In 97 minutes of gratifying TV, Kyrgios won 7-6 (5), 6-3.
The match served as a sort of mental corrective for me. Kyrgios typically gets credited with flashy serves (yes, he did strike more than one 136-mph ace) and bold winners (yes, there were plenty of those, too). All fiery, high-risk points—but that’s a lazy game of connect-the-dots between his persona and his play style. Rarely does he get enough credit for his ability to cool down the pace and really linger in a rally. When he’s in the mood, he can push as effectively as anyone on tour, swinging his backhand and hitting safe spots:
While this isn’t the prettiest tennis in Kyrgios’s arsenal, it works—he used much of the same in his win over Novak Djokovic at Indian Wells. He’s likely to mix in some of his change-of-pace against the hard-hitting Zverev in the quarterfinal tomorrow.