Nick Kyrgios is preparing for the biggest game of his career when he takes on Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final on Sunday night – and one of the world’s leading tennis strategists believes the Aussie is a ‘nightmare’ match-up for the 20-time Grand Slam winner.
Craig O’Shannessy, an Australian coach and a tactical maestro, has worked closely with Djokovic in the past – including their only two match-ups, which Kyrgios won.
Yes – despite Djokovic being ranked the best men’s player in the world for a record 373 weeks, Kyrgios is undefeated against him.
It might be a small sample size, but the two straight sets match wins to Kyrgios in 2017 show the Aussie is not afraid of ‘The Joker’.
Aussie tennis coach and strategist Craig O’Shannessy believes Kyrgios can win
Nick Kyrgios (left) and Novak Djokovic (right) after a match in 2017, which Kyrgios won
‘In many ways, it’s (the final) a nightmare match up for Novak, and it’s a dream match up for Nick. Obviously, Novak’s level and his history at Wimbledon will serve him well, but Nick is in this with a real chance,’ O’Shannessy told the Daily Telegraph.
Kyrgios beat Djokovic 7-6, 7-5 at an ATP event in Acapulco five years ago, before again beating him in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 at Indian Wells.
O’Shannessy was working with Djokovic at the time, and said Kyrgios’ service game was one of the keys to victory.
‘He (Djokovic) couldn’t pick Nick’s serve. In two matches, and 23 service games, Novak didn’t break him once and Nick only faced one break point on serve,’ he said.
Nick Kyrgios, pictured during his quarter-final win over Cristian Garin is one of the fastest serves in tennis and it will be crucial if he is to win the Wimbledon final tonight
Kyrgios has one of the fastest serves in the game, but that isn’t the only reason why his service game is impressive.
He also has the ability to cleverly switch it up, including his famously cheeky underarm serve.
In one of their match-ups, Djokovic faced a second serve at 133km/hr before Kyrgios threw down the gauntlet on another second serve, with a 202km/hr rocket.
In fact, Kyrgios has the second-faster second serve ever recorded, according to TennisCreative: 230km/hr.
Nick Kyrgios crafts a backhand in his win over Cristian Garin in the quarter-finals
According to O’Shannessy, in their two match-ups, 11 of Kyrgios’ second serves were actually faster than the average speed of Djokovic’s first.
So undoubtedly Djokovic will need to be on his game, pun intended, if Kyrgios doesn’t get his first serve in.
Nick Kyrgios will need to be at his best on the baseline to get a win over Novak Djokovic
O’Shannessey also indicated that Kyrgios personality, both on and off the court could be a big advantage, because the Aussie isn’t fazed what player is down the other end of the court.
‘It’s very important that Nick doesn’t respect Novak too much to not do that, because that’s who Nick is and that’s how Nick plays. Nick’s got to bring his A-game and he’s got to bring the circus in,’ he said.
Novak Djokovic hits during his quarter-final win over Jannik Sinner
There’s lots of positives for Kyrgios going into the do-or-die final; but undoubtedly the thing that will concern fans the most, is his ability to melt down, on occasion, when things don’t go his way.
It’s almost a foregone conclusion at some point, according to O’Shannessy, but nothing that can’t be overcome.
‘You’ve got to expect at some stage in this match, things are going to go south for Nick at some stage. He may still win the match. But you always expect adversity in a match,’ he said.
Nick Kyrgios sends down yet another sizzling serve in his straight sets quarter-final win
One thing is for sure, this is going to be a cracker of a tennis match, and if Kyrgios ‘brings the circus in’, as O’Shannessy suggests, it will be unmissable television.
The game is scheduled to begin at 11pm AEST, with the match to be broadcast on Channel 9 and Stan Sport.
The journey to the Wimbledon final
Nick Kyrgios reacts during his tough round four win over Brandon Nakashima
Semi-final: defeated Rafael Nadal (2) in a walkover
Quarter-final: defeated Cristian Garin 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 in straight sets (2 hours, 13 minutes)
Round 4: defeated Brandon Nakashima 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-2 in five sets (3 hours, 11 minutes)
Round 3: defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7) in four sets (3 hours 17 minutes)
Round 2: defeated Filip Krajinovic (26) 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in straight sets (1 hour, 25 minutes)
Round 1: defeated Paul Jubb 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-7 (3), 7-5 in five sets (3 hours, 5 minutes)
Total time on court: 13 hours, 11 minutes
Current rank: 40
Best Wimbledon result: Finalist (2022)
Novak Djokovic celebrates his quarter-final win over Jannik Sinner
Semi-final: defeated Cameron Norrie (9) 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in four sets (2 hours, 35 minutes)
Quarter-final: defeated Jannik Sinner (10) 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in five sets (3 hours, 35 minutes)
Round 4: defeated Tim van Rijthoven 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in four sets (2 hours, 39 minutes)
Round 3: defeated Miomir Kecmanovic 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 in straight sets (1 hour, 53 minutes)
Round 2: defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 in straight sets (2 hours)
Round 1: defeated Soonwoo Kwon 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in four sets (2 hours, 27 minutes)
Total time on court: 15 hours, 15 minutes
Current rank: 3
Best Wimbledon result: Winner (2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021)