One of the hottest young prospects set to grace the United States Open is Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, who will be making his second appearance at the season’s final Grand Slam event, this time against Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny. This is the first time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour and will certainly be one of the matches to keep an eye out for on Monday afternoon.
Youzny had a largely forgettable 2014, and is currently riding a two-match losing streak heading into his opener at the Western & Southern Open. He most recently lost in the opening round of the Rogers Cup to Italy’s Fabio Fognini and has since dropped several spots in the rankings. He managed to redeem himself the following week with a staggering upset over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who had just won the Rogers Cup two days prior. He holds a losing record of 13-17 so far this season.
Kyrgios experienced a breakthrough moment at the Wimbledon Championships two months ago when he toppled two-time champion Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the tournament. It was a remarkable win for the youngster, who had never beaten a Top 10 competitor in his short career and arrived at SW 19 with a 1-5 record on the professional tour. The win also propelled him from No. 144 to No. 69 and he was immediately offered a wildcard into the main draw of the Rogers Cup. While he would begin his Canadian campaign with a win over Santiago Giraldo, he would lose in the second round of the tournament to Andy Murray.
While Kyrgios is aware that he is the underdog in his upcoming match against Youzhny, he believes he can find a way to exploit the Russian veteran’s game.
“One thing you can expose in his game a little bit is maybe mentally,” Kyrgios told AAP. “So I’m going to go out there and, if I’m serving well, it’s going to be tough for him to get a rhythm. I’m just going to stay composed, obviously have fun and if my chance is there, I’m going to try and grab it. It’s going to be a tough match, no doubt. There’s going to be parts of that match where I’m going to be hurting physically. But he might be feeling a bit of pressure too. He’s the expected winner of that match.”
This marks the first time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour and will likely be a grueling battle of attrition between two talented players. While many would expect Kyrgios to be capable of pulling off the upset, Youzhny proved in Cincinnati that you could never count him out of a match. It will be interesting to see if he can replicate that this time around.
Prediction: Nick Kyrgios in Five Sets