Dominic Thiem vs Nick Kyrgios Stands Out in Australian Open 3rd Round

Dominic Thiem at the Rio Open
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Nick Kyrgios triumphed in an epic five set win over talented youngster Ugo Humbert on Wednesday to set up a titanic clash with world #3 Dominic Thiem. Saving two match points on the way, he secured a highly impressive win in dramatic fashion. His reward? A 3rd round clash with last year’s runner up.

Dominic Thiem vs Nick Kyrgios

Thiem Safely Through

Despite a shaky first set against Mikhail Kukushkin in Round 1, Dominic Thiem has looked in excellent form. He defeated Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6 6-2 6-3 and also came through in straight sets against Dominik Koepfer on Wednesday, dishing out a bagel in the process.

Coming into the tournament, a few doubts were raised over Thiem’s form due to his 6-2 6-4 loss to Matteo Berrettini in last week’s ATP Cup. However, this was no cause for concern. A week before winning the US Open last year, Thiem was crushed by Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic 6-2 6-1. He performed about average in last year’s ATP Cup and still went on to make the Australian Open final. In 2017, Thiem was annihilated by Djokovic in straight sets in Rome but went on to beat him in straight sets at the French Open. Evidently, his form before going into Grand Slams is barely an indication of how he will perform.

Thiem is gearing up for another impressive run in Melbourne and looks set to challenge strongly for the title once again. However, he has an almighty hurdle coming his way.

Kyrgios Back From the Brink

In typical Nick Kyrgios fashion, his encounter with 29th seed Ugo Humbert was spilling with drama. Decimating his racket, arguing with the umpire over let calls and letting plenty of his anger out, it was impossible to look away. To complement this, we were treated with five sets of enthralling tennis.

Many times over his career Kyrgios has been accused of not fighting or trying hard enough. Well, that wasn’t the case here. Humbert was up two sets to one, 5-4 and had match point twice. How did Kyrgios respond? He fought hard. He didn’t give up or take violent swings at the ball hoping it may go in. We saw him execute intelligent tennis and brilliant defense, leading to him forcing a break of serve before dominating the fourth set tie-break.

Once he’d leveled the match, his tail was well and truly up. He kept his high level of tennis and broke early in the fifth, holding his nerve throughout the set and closed out the match. This is a huge win for Kyrgios. Humbert is a top quality player who produced a stunning display of tennis for the whole match, and Kyrgios had to find another gear to emerge victorious. This win will be a huge confidence boost for the fiery Aussie.

A Mouth-Watering Match-Up

Despite both players being on the ATP Tour for a number of years, they have only played once. Their first and only meeting was back in 2015 in Nice, which Thiem won due to Kyrgios’ retirement in the first set. History therefore doesn’t give us much suggestion as to how this match may go. What we do know is that both players are more than capable of beating anyone when playing well.

Both players are well equipped with huge serves, phenomenal power, and skill sets that many players can only dream of. Undoubtedly the match will be largely dependent on who serves better. Kyrgios surely has the better first serve, but Thiem’s first serve is nothing to be scoffed at. His second serve is also a weapon of his and one of the best on tour, which Kyrgios will need to be on guard for. If both players serve well, we will see multiple tie-breaks unfold.

Who Will Prevail?

If the match does come down to tiebreaks, it’s another difficult prediction to make. Both men have proved how good they are in these situations, as Kyrgios did on Wednesday and as Thiem did against Djokovic in last year’s ATP Finals, coming back from 4-0 down to win the match. To add to this, Thiem was the only player in 2020 to win a tie-break against Djokovic. If Kyrgios is even slightly off with his serving, Thiem will be the favourite to come out on top in the clutch moments.

Thiem’s groundstrokes are overall better than Kyrgios’ due to his ability to hit with unrivalled power off both wings from anywhere on the court. If he can dominate the rallies, he should emerge the victor. That said, we all know how explosive Kyrgios can be with his forehand, and if he can dominate points with this then it will be a hugely tight contest. Pairing this with the passionate support Kyrgios has in Melbourne, the atmosphere will be electric and he may just have an advantage.

An encounter full of possibilities, this is not a match you will want to miss. The stakes are high for both players, and neither will be willing to give their opponent an inch of breathing room. This will be a contest beaming with quality from start to finish, and sports fans across the globe are in for a treat.

Main Photo from Getty.