Nick Kyrgios of Australia in action against Alexander Zverev of Germany at the Miami Open.
Nick Kyrgios of Australia in action against Alexander Zverev of Germany at the Miami Open. RHONA WISE

Kyrgios confident of taking down big-serving American

TENNIS: Nick Kyrgios says he will take confidence from his win over big-serving American John Isner in their most recent match when they attack the Davis Cup's pivotal second singles encounter at Pat Rafter Arena on Friday.

Kyrgios will meet the 204cm Isner straight after Aussie No.2 Jordan Thompson faces Jack Sock, the highest-ranked player in the quarter-final tie at No.15.

Isner has a 2-1 career record against the in-form Kyrgios, having beaten the Australian in two matches in 2015 before losing their 2016 final in Atlanta, Georgia.

The American No.2, who owns a Davis Cup win over Roger Federer, clouted the most aces on the ATP Tour last year, 1159, at an average of 23 per match, the majority of which were best-of-three-set encounters.

"I played him last year and feel pretty confident with this match-up,” Kyrgios said.

"I feel comfortable playing second.

"You don't get too many looks at his serve but you take care of your own (serve) and you get some looks. That's what I did in Atlanta.

"It's good for Thommo to start first. He did that last time against (in his Davis Cup debut in February against Czech Jiri Vesely) and proved he can deal with the pressure pretty well.”

Isner famously won the longest match in history - in 11 hours, eight minutes over France's Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010 - and in each of his past three grand slam tournaments has played a match that ventured beyond 6-6 in the fifth set.

"It can be a good thing if our match goes to five sets,” Isner said.

John Isner, of the United States, returns the ball to Alexander Zverev, of Germany, during the Miami Open tennis tournament, Monday, March 27, 2017, in Key Biscayne, Fla. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
John Isner of the United States. Luis M. Alvarez

"It's another thing that makes Davis Cup special - it's best out of five, like you have at a grand slam. Generally over best-of-five on the day the better player will win. It's a truer form for the format.”

Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt sounded a warning that it would not be "easy to rely on your serve”.

"That builds pressure in itself. I'm happy with the guy I have on the other side of the net,” he said.

The Americans named Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson for Saturday's doubles rubber against John Peers and Sam Groth. Doubles teams can be changed up to one hour before the start of the match.

Top-ranked players Kyrgios and Sock meet in the fourth match on Sunday, followed by Thompson and Isner in the concluding rubber.

"Anything can happen (in doubles pair selection) between now and Saturday,” American captain Jim Courier said.

Kyrgios, a polarising figure in tennis but one almost always well supported at Australian tournaments, said he welcomed the home crowd assistance towards ending the country's 14-year wait for another Davis Cup title.

"I'm looking forward to having some home support. It's a massive tie,” he said.

"We have a massive opportunity to really push and if we have the support anything is possible this year.”

Isner said Kyrgios was now a more mature player than in their 2015 and 2016 matches.

"I played him three times and I'm a little used to the match-up,” he said.


Australia v United States

April 7-9, Pat Rafter Arena (hardcourt), Brisbane

Friday (from noon): Jordan Thompson (world ranking 79) v Jack Sock (15); Nick Kyrgios (16) v John Isner (23)

Saturday (from 1pm): Sam Groth (doubles ranking 51)/John Peers (2) v Sam Querrey (60)/Steve Johnson (75)

Sunday (from noon): Kyrgios v Sock, Thompson v Isner

  • Winner to face either Italy or Belgium in the semi-finals from September 15-17