If you were looking forward to the heady mix of Nick Kyrgios, tennis’s Four Loko, and Roger Federer, aging like a fine wine, my condolences. Indian Wells will stay dry tonight, since Kyrgios just pulled out of this anticipated quarterfinal due to an unspecified illness.
Kyrgios, last seen defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets, doesn’t raise any eyebrows here; for all his mental woes, he relishes every chance to play the best, and visibly elevates his game in those matches as if to prove a point. It’s hard to imagine he’d pass this opportunity up unless the circumstances were dire—as in, sleeplessly-keeled-over-a-toilet dire. To regurgitate that neat stat again: Kyrgios beat Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Federer in his first try against each. Even though he’ll be missing out on the conclusion of the most talent-choked bracket quarter in the sport’s history, he did not seem intimidated by it, because “I’ve beaten them all.”
In their only previous encounter last April, Federer lost to Kyrgios on Madrid’s clay. On Wednesday, though, the Swiss was quick to observe (cheekily?) that he’d been distracted in that match because it was his twins’ birthday, and he left Leo and Lenny back in Switzerland to compete in Spain. “I’m happy my family is here and it’s not anybody’s birthday and I can just focus on playing tennis,” Federer said. “Of course I’d like to get him back.”
He won’t get that chance, though he now has an extremely healthy chance to tie Djokovic for a record five titles at Indian Wells. If higher seeds prevail in the remaining matches—and they probably will—Federer’s final two foes will be Kei Nishikori, followed by Stan Wawrinka. It’s a familiar slate: Federer just beat these guys in consecutive five-setters back at the Australian Open, and he’s now striking his backhand even more commandingly than he was back in January.