Nick Kyrgios overpowered Novak Djokovic for the second time in as many weeks on Wednesday to book an Indian Wells quarter-final berth against Roger Federer, who brutally swept aside old foe Rafael Nadal.
Kyrgios put on another stellar serving display in a 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) triumph that ended three-time defending champion Djokovic’s 19-match winning streak in the first Masters tournament of the year.
Federer, who added another chapter to a storied rivalry with Nadal with an epic Australian Open triumph in January, dismantled the Spaniard 6-2, 6-3 to advance.
It was the first time since their first meeting in 2004 that Federer and Nadal had met before the quarter-finals of a tournament, and oddity of the rankings that had them and Djokovic — with 44 Grand Slam titles among the three of them — all grouped in the same quarter of the draw.
Djokovic was the first to fall, in the face of relentless aggression from world number 16 Kyrgios.
“The run was amazing,” said Djokovic, who also won in Indian Wells in 2008 and 2011 before going on his roll from 2014-2016. “I am very proud of it. It had to end at some stage. Unfortunately, it was today.”
Kyrgios, 21, couldn’t match the 25 aces he rained on Djokovic in a shock win in Acapulco this month. But 14 aces were plenty as he kept Djokovic off-balance with a welter of 100mph-plus serves.
“He obviously comes out playing his style, very aggressive, and just going for every serve, whether it’s first or second,” Djokovic said. “It’s very hard to play like that.”
A break in the first game of the match was enough to give Kyrgios the opening set.
Djokovic saved to break points late in the second set as they battled to the tiebreaker which Kyrgios dominated, sealing the win, fittingly, with a final monster serve.
“On his first serves, to try to anticipate and read his serve, where he’s going to go 140 miles per hour down the T and also pretty good angle wide, it’s hard to position yourself well… It is a gamble,” Djokovic said. “His second serve, if you think you’re going to have a look at it, you don’t, because he goes for it as well.”
Kyrgios, already the youngest player to record victories over Djokovic, Federer, Nadal, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, now gets another crack at Federer, who needed just 68 minutes to dispatch Nadal.
Federer broke Nadal to open the match, and seized a second break and 4-1 with a blistering backhand service return winner.
A forehand volley sealed the set, and another forehand winner put Federer up a break at 2-1 in the second.
Federer was firmly in control as Nadal served to save the match at 5-3. An unlucky netcord bounce, when Nadal’s forehand clipped the net and rolled back, gave Federer a double match point, and with a backhand return down the line the 36th meeting between the two was his.
The win marks the first time in the rivalry that Federer has strung together three wins over Nadal.
‘Impossible to win’
He beat him in the final at Basel in 2015 and in an epic Australian Open final in January in their two most recent previous contests.
“In Australia was a very close match,” Nadal said. “I had good chances to win. Today, not. Today he played better than me. I didn’t play my best match, and he played well. These kind of matches, when you’re not playing your match, it’s impossible to win.”
With attention focused on the loaded bottom quarter of the draw, fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan quietly booked his quarter-final berth with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over American Donald Young.
He’ll face American Jack Sock, who rallied for a 4-6, 7-6 (7/1), 7-5 victory over Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri.
Spain’s Pablo Carreno-Busta beat Serbian qualifier Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) to set up a meeting with Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas, a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 winner over 11th-seeded Belgian David Goffin.