BNP Paribas Open Day 4 Preview: Nick Kyrgios Vs Grigor Dimitrov

BNP Paribas Open

CC courtesy of Marianne Bevis at Flickr

Day 4 of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, features a clash between two generations as unseeded Nick Kyrgios takes on eleventh seed Grigor Dimitrov. The Tennis Review previews the action and predicts the winner.

This match features one of the leaders of the current ‘next Generation’, Grigor Dimitrov, versus Nick Kyrgios the leader of the generation behind them.

The worrying thing for Dimitrov’s generation, which includes Nishikori, Raonic and Tomic, is that the generation following them, made up of Kyrgios, Coric and Kokkinakis, are progressing fast and may even make big breakthroughs before the Dimitrov generation (their biggest achievement so far is Nishikori’s 2014 U.S runner-up finish).

Dimitrov looked  like he might be ready to make a major breakthrough when he made the semi-finals of Wimbledon 2014 and broke into the top ten in August but since then he has not been past the fourth round of a slam and has fallen out of the top ten.

Kyrgios, meanwhile, has risen from world 144 to world no.  37 since his run to the Wimbledon last eight during which he knocked out Rafael Nadal. That climb is even more impressive considering Kyrgios has played only five events since SW19, a run that has included making the last eight of the Australian Open 2015.

The match comes at a time when neither player is at their best. Kyrgios is coming back from injury and had not played since Melbourne before his solid straight sets opening round Indian Wells win. Meanwhile, Dimitrov is still struggling to get back into form, failing to defend his Acapulco title a week ago. The Bulgarian lost to world 169 Ryan Harrison in the round of sixteen, losing the third set 0-6.

That was one of a string of bad losses for the Bulgarian– at the Australian Open, Dimitrov blew a 5-2 fourth set lead against Murray in the fourth round, and blew a gasket, too, smashing his racket.

Watch Dimitrov lose his cool in Melborune after blowing a 5-2 lead versus Murray in round four. 

This match is the first meeting between the two and is a clash of styles. Kyrgios is a big server and power player who needs the short returns to tee off winners and will look to be aggressive at all opportunities. Dimitrov has a lot more touch and variety, and can play very aggressively, too, but recently he has tended to stay behind the baseline and be dictated to.

Kyrgios will be overjoyed if he can get Dimitrov pinned back behind the baseline, get him on the stretch, and get the short balls he loves. If the match follows that script, it is going to be another early loss for the world no.11.

Dimitrov has to be pro-active, and has to put pressure on the return, taking risks. Dimitrov has the better return game and if he can get some second serves at big moments, he will get the vital breaks he needs. But opportunities will be few and far between-  Kyrgios struck 11 aces and won 77 % of his service points in his first round match and if he can maintain that rhythm, he is going to be hard to break.

Dimitrov will get a better look at returns in Indian Wells than he would on many other hard courts against Kyrgios. The surface is slow for a hard court, particularly on the center court, which suits Dimitrov who is an all court player– last year he won titles on all surfaces.

However, this match is second on stadium court and the balls will fly a little faster in the afternoon heat which will help Kyrgios who despite the slowness of the court still has enough power and aggression to hit through it.

Dimitrov does not fare well against the more aggressive players. Big serving Gilles Muller beat him in straight sets in the last sixteen of Rotterdam and he could only win four games off Federer in the Brisbane semi-finals.

But neither does Kyrgios do well against defensive ones on slower courts- Murray handled him relatively easily in Melbourne- so this match really could go either way depending on who can impose their games more.

Kyrgios tends to impose his game better than Dimitrov, though, as he is naturally aggressive while Dimitrov plays better when he lets his aggressive instincts take over but often reacts to his opponent’s games when he should assert his own.

Dimitrov may have strong defensive skills, but he is no Murray or Djokovic and could be overwhelmed at times by the power of Kyrgios’ ground strokes.

Most likely, both will come out playing their most aggressive tennis and sets will be decided on tiebreaks. Those could be decided on who serves the best and who takes the most risks, and if the last nine months is anything to go by, that is most probably going to be Kyrgios.

Prediction: Kyrgios to win in three very intriguing sets.

Commentary by Christian Deverille

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