Racquet Reaction

Toronto: Murray d. Kyrgios

Wednesday, August 06, 2014 /by
Untouchable on serve, the No. 8 seed breaks four times in rolling to a 6-2, 6-2 victory. (AP Photo)
Untouchable on serve, the No. 8 seed breaks four times in rolling to a 6-2, 6-2 victory. (AP Photo)

Launching his forehand with lethal intent, Nick Kyrgios aimed to end Andy Murray's counterstrikes with a blast of finality. Then the explosive Aussie spiked a kill shot even Murray couldn't rescue.

Nineteen minutes into the match, Kyrgios scattered a leaping forehand wide, then splattered his black-and-yellow Yonex to the court in frustration. The outburst left the racquet a mangled mess and Kyrgios' concentration lacerated. The 19-year-old picked up a fresh stick, only to receive the same old treatment as Murray continued to dismantle his game.

In his first match since a listless Wimbledon quarterfinal loss, the eighth-seeded Scot looked revitalized. Moving fluidly, serving sharply, and breaking serve four times, Murray outclassed Kyrgios, 6-2, 6-2 in just 54 minutes, to roll into the third round of the Rogers Cup.

The serve and return are the two most important shots in the game, and Murray excelled in both. He was untouchable on serve, slashing seven aces, winning 24 of 25 points played on his first serve, and breezing through five of eight service games at love. He also neutralized Kyrgios' electric first serve, winning 11 of 18 second-serve points and converting four of five break points.

The opening match on Stadium Court drew an interested crowd, including Grigor Dimitrov and Novak Djokovic, who both checked in from the player lounge. The first meeting between the former junior world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion shaped up as a clash of Kyrgios' power against Murray's court coverage and consistency. But the ferocious serve-forehand combination Kyrgios unleashed in banging 37 aces to bounce Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon did not penetrate the gritty hard-court or bewilder Murray nearly as much.

Trying to squeeze his topspin into short angles, Kyrgios netted successive inside-out forehands to face double break point. He erased the first with a sliding serve out wide to set up a backhand winner, but Murray's court sense stung the youngster on the second chance. Sensing Kyrgios would unload, Murray was already moving to his right and redirected the oncoming pace, blocking back a forehand that floated near the baseline to coax an over-ambitious error for the first break and a 2-1 lead. Sliding an ace down the T followed by a slice-serve winner to consolidate at love, Murray led 3-1. He won 11 of the last 12 points in snatching the 23-minute opener.

Even in a sloppy performance, Kyrgios' rangy athleticism can dazzle. At 2-all in the second set, he attacked, bending his body to intercept a Murray passing attempt with a flashy-angled forehand volley. There's a lot to like about Kyrgios' potential, but he must sharpen his shot selection, make more returns, and develop some more solutions to point construction rather than resorting to bashing the inside-out forehand when he struggles to gain traction in ralllies.

Murray's movement without the ball—cutting off the angles on Kyrgios' second serve, leaning to the right spot reading the forehand, and even stabbing back some smashes—was unnerving to the only teenager ranked inside the ATP Top 100. Murray spooked the world No. 70, reading his patterns so well he sometimes arrived at the destination before the shot landed. He coaxed an errant inside-out forehand to break for 3-2, and broke again for 5-2 when Kyrgios slapped a backhand into net.

Murray ended the dissection with an ace, a smile, and a word of encouragement for his opponent. He will face 12th-seeded Richard Gasquet next.

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