Nick Kyrgios showed he can battle the best players in the world if his mentality is in the right place – just as Roger Federer said.
World No 3 Federer has always thought highly of Kyrgios and he made an interesting prediction ahead of the Australian Open.
“Nick doesn’t need to improve a whole lot in his game, he knows he can beat everybody,” Federer said.
“He’s got the forehand, the backhand, the serve and volleys and all that stuff.
“With Nick we know it’s elsewhere — it’s his mind. How much can he do, does he want to do?”
Kyrgios has developed a notorious reputation for losing his cool on the court and lashing out at his opponents or the officials.
Some would say it is all part of the entertainment factor which has made the 24-year-old one of the most watchable players in the world.
There has always been questions hanging over whether Kyrgios would be able to win Grand Slam titles if he was able to keep his composure on the court.
Well this season he appears to have matured and is proving Federer’s theory right.
A different Kyrgios has been in action this past week in Melbourne – one that is happy to outlast opponents in baseline rallies and not always looking to end the points quickly.
And he really struggled to match Nadal’s power and energy in the first set as he looked physically and emotionally drained.
In the previous round Kyrgios played the longest match of his entire career in a five-set thrilling win over Karen Khachanov, which had four tiebreaks.
Any year previous and all the negatives could have built-up and caused a major scene.
But Kyrgios, with the majority of the support inside Rod Laver Arena, was able to get himself back in the match and he won the second set 6-3.
Even an incorrect decision by umpire James Keothavong, who overruled a line judge, did not draw a reaction from Kyrgios.
It took until the eighth game of the third set for Kyrgios to deliver his first underarm serve but that landed the wrong side of the net.
Frustration set in in the third set as the world No 26 vented his anger at incorrect decisions from the line judge – but he kept the outburst short and brief and far less fierce than he is accustom to.
A racket felt the brunt of Kyrgios’ temper as it was bounced off the floor drawing a warning from the umpire. But even the kind soul of Naomi Osaka has a tendency to launch her equipment and she has won two Grand Slam titles.
Kyrgios remained on focus and was just edged in a narrow third-set tiebreak.
Nadal broke to love early in the fourth set and survived a late fightback as he went on to wrap up a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(4) win.
But if Kyrgios can keep this mentality and focus going forward then Federer will be right and the top players should be looking over their shoulder.