Too much attention of#rovoanalysis has been paid to the established players of the old guard. It is time we take a break from such unhealthy fixation on the well-recognized and focus on the not less worthy or good emerging players. We shall start with the sensation from Australia - Nick Kyrgios. What makes him so good exactly?
Like Nadal in the last article, a major asset in Kyrgios's game is his power. This in fact, serves a larger purpose in his game compared to Nadal, as Kyrgios is heavily dependent on shock-and-awe tactics, whereas counter-punching defense is still very much the norm for Nadal. What is interesting is not his usage of high-power shots, but how he uses them (after all, he can't be blasting all the points and still play such consistently that he reaches the highest of ranks). Kyrgios' usage of power (although far from obvious that it seems this way) is very deliberate. He unleashes his power in the most unlikely and technically unsound of moments, when the opponent is most likely to be caught off-guard. His ability to win most of such (this is what it seems, as we do not have any statistical data in our hands concerning this) points to a huge degree of control over such 'reckless' unleashings. This ability to control, is a big factor in his genius.
Before writing this point, we were having a heavy debate about whether or not to discontinue its usage o such, given that is almost given that it would be a main reason for goodness for almost every other player made the subject of a 'what makes so good' article. Tennis is 80% footwork (what my a coach of mine said 10 years ago) after all. Kyrgios has this ability to move around the court in a manner, that although lacking grace or the appearance of buzz or frantic fast movement, that gets him where he is supposed to be. This has made it extremely hard for even the best offensive players to punch homes in his defences, and instead be pitted against him in a long-drawn battle of attrition. A perfect example of such a scenario was the 2017 Miami Masters semi-final match between Federer and Kyrgios. It was the most static amongst all of the matches played by Federer in that very tournament, which was definitely more due to Kyrgios' walled defense (which in turn was mainly a function of his movement) than Federer not enough the offensive capabilities.
This quality (to the degree that Kyrgios embraces it) has got to be one unique one. Many top players are fearless to a huge degree, or else they would have failed to seize on the key (and also naturally most pressure-inducing) moments which have brought them to where they are now. However, the key word here is degree. Even Djokovic does not have the through fearlessness of Kyrgios'. His fearlessness increases whenever the points become more critical, or else he adopts the conventional play-safe approach. This has allowed Kyrgios to play a higher-risk game which he excels in (a huge part of his talent as mentioned being is ability to play so reckless and yet be so controlled). His opponents are thus put under a greater amount of pressure for greater stretches of time than they have been used to, and perhaps also trained for. To be fair, Kyrgios hits more unforced errors than the typical ATP players, but the gains from such play do make up for its losses.
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