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Kyrgios plays the more disciplined match to take out "imitator" Bublik
After exchanging plenty of trick shots, the No. 27 seed emerged the winner, 7-5, 6-3.
Published Mar 22, 2019
UPDATE: Before his next singles match Sunday night against Dusan Lajovic, Nick Kyrgios played a doubles match with Taylor Fritz. The pair lost to Guido Pella and Joao Sousa, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (3), 10-8, and let's just say that restraint—something Kyrgios exhibited in his win over Alexander Bublik on Friday—was lacking when it was all said and done on Saturday:
See for yourself, as Kyrgios berates the chair umpire after an apparent disagreement (NSFW):
In happier times, Kyrgios and Fritz won a point after Nick hit the court and lost his racquet:
To sum it up, Kyrgios lost his racquet, the match, and his cool.—Ed McGrogan
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla.—Nick Kyrgios faced a Kazakhstani version of himself on Friday in his opening round at the Miami Open. Alexander Bublik is a big-serving, trick-shot hitting 21-year-old with a penchant for extreme flair. He ended up being the perfect first opponent for Kyrgios, who had more reason to stay disciplined on his way to a 7-5, 6-3 win.
"Kind of reminds me of me a little bit," Kyrgios said. "So hopefully he can just pull it together a little bit and play those bigger points with a little bit more discipline—it's strange me saying that. But he's seriously fun to watch and he was fun to play against."
It was fun to watch them both. The two exchanged big shots off the ground and off their serves, but mixed in a ton of net charges, drop shots, tweeners and trick shots, especially in the second set. A few times after a particularly entertaining point had the crowd gasping, Kyrgios and Bublik shared a knowing smile and even a pat on the chest at the net.
Turns out they don't actually know each other: it was just a display of respect.
"I thought he was going to put me on some highlight reels. I knew that he was trying to at some stage," Kyrgios said. "I knew that I had to be the disciplined of the two. There's one other player like that and that's Dustin Brown."
A disciplined Kyrgios is hard to beat, just ask all the players he beat in Acapulco on his way to the title. His biggest win there was over Rafael Nadal, where he hit an underhand serve for good measure–which pointedly didn't go in, but he got "scorched for" doing it anyway (his words).
Imitation really is the highest form of flattery as Bublik hit one such serve in his 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (5) win over Tennys Sandgren in his previous round.
"I hit and it's just like he's got no respect for the players, he's bad for the game," the 23-year-old Kyrgios said. "And everyone else does it and it's like, ah, very tactically switched on, unbelievable play. I'm never going to hit one again.
"I'm kidding. I'm hitting it for sure. I was thinking about it all match today."
Bublik has the potential to become a mainstay at the top of the ATP level. Though he's ranked No. 121, he has won two ATP Challenger titles already this year. If he can just clean things up a little bit during the big points, there's no telling how high he could go—Kyrgios certainly thinks so.
"I feel like I go for things that are just makable and he goes for things that are not makable," Kyrgios said. "I think imitation is the best form of flattery, so he must like me little bit. He lives and dies by the sword, big shots, goes for drop shots, very flare-y. He's extremely talented."
Kyrgios, the No. 27 seed in Miami, takes on Dusan Lajovic next. Lajovic upset fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori earlier on Friday.