If there’s one thing Nick Kyrgios has never lacked, it’s confidence in his game. Even in what he’s dubbed his ‘darkest moments’, when he even questioned his breadwinner, he never lost that self-confidence, the knowledge that when he’s on his game, he can hold his own against the sport’s elite.
“I could lose five matches in a row and I still believe I have a chance to beat anyone,” Canberran, 27, said last week in Montreal, where he beat world number one Daniil Medvedev to the third time in four ATP Head2Heads.
A refocused and reinvigorated Kyrgios finds himself in Medvedev’s quarters again at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, though there are a few hurdles standing in the way of a rematch. The Australian will start with a first meeting with Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Tuesday at the Linder Family Tennis Center, and could later face Taylor Fritz or Andrey Rublev if he advances.
Off a subpar 4-9 start to 2022, Davidovich Fokina turned his year into April with a dream run to the first ATP Tour final of his career. He came to the hallowed clay of the Rolex Monte-Carlos Masters, and saw the 22-year-old Andalusian stun Novak Djokovic, David Goffin, Fritz and then top-ranked Grigor Dimitrov by reaching the title match, where he eventually succumbed to defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-3, 7-6(3).
Despite a back-to-back loss to Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals in Montreal, Kyrgios has put himself in a much better position heading into the US Open, where he will now be among the top seeds. Including his run to his first major final at Wimbledon, Kyrgios has won nine straight, including the title match in Washington, and won 15 of 17 matches to lift his Pepperstone ATP ranking to 28th.
Medvedev, Cincinnati’s 2019 title roster, will face Rafael Nadal this week for the world No. 1, as Nadal has the opportunity to reclaim the job for the first time since January 2020. he was coming back. wins the title and Medvedev does not reach the quarter-finals. The result will determine the top seed at Flushing Meadows.
First up for Medvedev is Western & Southern Open debutant Botic van de Zandschulp, who has hit a new career high 12 times in 2022, peaking at No. 24 in July. He beat the Dutchman in the 2021 US Open quarter-finals, 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 7-5, later winning the first major of his career. He again prevailed against van de Zandschulp in the third round of the 2022 Australian Open, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
“For sure [I] I want to try and win as many games as possible here to develop that confidence to win games for the US Open,” said Medvedev, who enters his 13th week as world No. 1, overtaking Boris Becker in the overall rankings. the temperature. “But we’re going to take it game by game. As seen in the draw, I feel like the draw is very, very dense. Sometimes you have someone retiring here and there, someone tired from the season, maybe not in the best shape here. When I watch the draw, I’m like, ‘Wow, every game we have, even in the first round, is a tough game.’ »
Tuesday’s lineup will also feature: Fritz vs Sebastian Baez, Jannik Sinner vs qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis, Carlos Alcaraz vs joker Mackenzie McDonald and an all-American bout between Tommy Paul and Jenson Brooksby.
Alcaraz is still getting used to its success. Seeded No. 2 last week at the National Bank Open in Montreal, he was ousted in the first round by Paul, 6-7(4), 7-6(7), 6-3, later confident that the pressure, expectations happened to him.
“It was the first time I felt this pressure, and I couldn’t handle it,” said the 19-year-old Spaniard.
The No. 3 seed in Cincinnati, he says he’s “trying to use the pressure in my favor now.” He already has ATP Masters 1000 titles this year in Miami and Madrid, and could move from No. 4 to No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP rankings if he continues to win the title this week.