Nick Kyrgios is not just playing great tennis, he’s also playing clever, tactically smart tennis.
The 27-year-old has been on fire this summer, beating world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev at the Canadian Open to claim his 14th win from his last 15 matches.
The key to Kyrgios’ success has been his huge serve, which statistically has been the best on the ATP Tour this season – before this week he led the tour in service games won (94.42%) and had held 73 service games in a row before being broken in the first round in Montreal.
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Against Medvedev, he showed another facet to his game as he backed up his strong serving, and exploited his opponent’s deep serve position, by consistently serve and volleying.
Kyrgios won 32 of 48 net points, saved the two break points he faced and won three service games in under 60 seconds.
“I came out today with a serve and volley tactic almost every point, I didn’t want to give him any rhythm,” Kyrgios, who is now at No. 31 in the live ATP rankings, told Tennis Channel.
“He is playing pretty well, I wanted to break that and come out with a completely different tactic. I haven’t played like that in a while, just serve and volleying.
“I feel like on my serve if I am hitting my spots and playing the right way it’s really hard to break me. I have so much confidence in that now that I’m letting loose in return games a bit.
“It’s all the work I have been doing off the court, I feel extremely confident in my return and my serve. I think I made him a bit uncomfortable with the way I was playing.”
There has been some debate recently about just how good Kyrgios’ serve is.
Andy Murray’s former coach Mark Petchey said he thinks it’s one of the top five serves of all time. But former world No. 1 Andy Roddick pushed back on that, saying there are more than five other players, such as John Isner, Ivo Karlovic, Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic and Pete Sampras, who would be ahead of Kyrgios. Not to mention Roddick’s own serve was pretty useful.
Yoshihito Nishioka, who lost to Kyrgios in the Citi Open final in Washington DC last week and has known the Australian since they were juniors, said: "I think he has the best service on tour, No. 1."
Kyrgios only served 12 aces against Medvedev, but his serve-volley tactic proved inspired and helped him claim his second win over a world No. 1 after also beating Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014.
“I was mesmerised by the serve-volley tactics, he’s making serve-volley cool again,” said former British No. 1 Annabel Croft on Amazon Prime.
“You don’t see many players other than the likes of Karlovic serve and volleying non-stop, but it was fantastic.
“It was pretty much all-out attack from the word go.”
Croft also said tennis “needs” Kyrgios right now with Roger Federer out of action recovering from a knee operation and Nadal and Novak Djokovic also not playing as much as they once did.

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“I think he’s one of the most feared players out there in any draw or tournament because you don’t know what he’s going to do next. He’s in such a great place and is enjoying himself.
“He’s willing to put himself where he needs to go to find out whether he’s good enough whereas before sometimes the pressure would be too much for him.
“He’s so much fun to watch and the game needs him right now with Federer injured, Nadal on and off, the top three players we don’t know how much longer they are going to be around for.”
Kryrgios next faces fellow Australian Alex de Minaur in the first career meeting between the pair. It should be an intriguing contest and Kyrgios may have to adapt his tactics again as De Minaur plays closer to the baseline than Medvedev.
But Roddick says Kyrgios now has “options” and expects him to be able to handle the tests posed in his last-16 match.
“Kyrgios is playing at a completely other level,” he said on Tennis Channel.
“Whatever De Minaur does, I think Kyrgios is able to adjust. He has that amount of variety.
“Just on physical ability, he is the only guy who can compare to the Big Three in this generation, but I still don’t know, is he going to explode. He’s played a lot of tennis, but I have a hard time betting against Kyrgios right now.”
Kyrgios stormed to victory against Medvedev by winning the last four games in a row. The result opens up the possibility that Medvedev could lose the No. 1 ranking at the Western & Southern Open next week to Rafael Nadal, who is set to play for the first time since withdrawing from his Wimbledon semi-final against Kyrgios due to injury.
"For me, today the biggest difference was that I missed in some important moments some shots," said Medvedev.
"I didn't miss much but missed just a few where I think it could be different maybe in the later stage of a tournament. That's a pity. At the same time, well, it's like this.
"He was great. He was playing good. He beat me fairly if we can say [it] like this."
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