With the bigger draws at Masters 1000 events, the early rounds are often a bit sparing for popcorn matches. However, the second round matchup between Andrey Rublev and Nick Kyrgios is definitely one that meets the criteria as long as the latter is on one of his hot streaks. The pair have played twice before but not since 2019, from which Rublev is a much improved player.
Rublev’s failure to defeat Taylor Fritz in the Indian Wells semi final will be an even more disappointing result for him now that we know an injured Rafael Nadal was to await in the final. However, the Russian is still having a great year with two titles and a thirteen match winning streak already achieved so far.
Kyrgios needs another win to move back into the top 100 but if he continues to play like he did at Indian Wells, it should only be a matter of time anyway. He took Rafael Nadal all the way in the quarter finals and did pick up a good win against Casper Ruud earlier in the tournament. He opened here with a straight sets win over Adrian Mannarino, dominating on serve and giving up no break points in the 7-6 6-3 win. “The conditions tonight just did not help me at all,” said after his night match. “I felt like I wasn’t able to get him out of his comfort zone from the ground… I thought I returned extremely well.”
If Kyrgios serves lights out, theres no doubt he can pull off the shock win but the consistency remains an issue. Rublev will just need to ride out the moments where the Australian is firing and should be able to dominate in a longer and more physical affair if necessary. The permanent return of an in-form Kyrgios would be a pleasant addition to the tour but the issue has long been that these moments are often fleeting rather than permanent now.
Prediction – Andrey Rublev in straight sets