By Siddhant Guru
Jannik Sinner took down Nick Kyrgios in straight sets in the Round of 16 in Miami. The match, sublime in parts, will be remembered more for Kyrgios’s foul mouthed outburst on chair umpire Carlos Bernades.
The Beginning of the Match
Sinner served first to begin the match. He started off with a double fault but then found his first serve to comfortably close out the opening game. Kyrgios too held serve after a scratchy opening service game before conjuring up a break point on the Sinner serve. Sinner, cool as ice, fired down a strong first serve to save the break point before going on to hold for 2-1. The story repeated in the 5th game as Sinner once again faced break point before another first serve saved him. At this point, you could feel that Kyrgios was beginning to get frustrated. He saved a couple of break points to hold for 3-3 but Kyrgios was no longer in control. He got angry at how different (supposedly) Grandstand played from Stadium, missed a few routine backhands and was beginning to lose his cool.
The 9th Game
At 4-4 15-0, Sinner won a point he should never have won, with Kyrgios missing the final forehand by a few meters from the baseline. At this point, Kyrgios was angry at the crowd for their noises during the point. It’s more likely that he was in fact angry at himself for missing an easy forehand. Regardless, he made his displeasure known to Carlos Bernades in expletive-laden language. He received a code violation for it.
At 40-15, just as Sinner served, the walkie-talkie went off, creating a stoppage in play. Sinner finished off the game with an ace. Nick walked to the changeover, voicing his displeasure to Carlos Bernades about what had just happened. His words were, “How is this possible? In Miami, one of the biggest tournaments of the year? It’s a joke.”
Kyrgios loses it
Both players held serve to take it into a first set tiebreak. At 1-2 in the tiebreak, Kyrgios missed an inside out forehand and proceeded to slam his racquet. Normally, this would lead to another code violation which would have been a point penalty. Carlos Bernades, however, was lax about it and didn’t penalize Kyrgios. At 2-4 in the TB, Kyrgios crossed ends for the changeover, muttering to Carlos Bernades, “Pretty sad to be honest”. He then double faulted to go down 2-5 and then muttered as an obvious jibe to Carlos Bernades, “You have no idea what to do.” At 3-5 in the tiebreak, Kyrgios apparently said to his friend, “You could do the job of the umpire”. That was enough for Carlos Bernades to hand Kyrgios a second code violation, resulting in a point penalty. Kyrgios promptly double faulted and lost the set. He then got into an argument with Carlos Bernades about the code violation and then proceeded to smash his racquet into pieces, resulting in a third Code violation or a game penalty.
Any further transgressions would have probably resulted in a default. In the second set, Kyrgios, clearly angry, began hitting harder and serving bigger. His average forehand speed went up by 2 km/h and his average backhand speed went up by 6 km/h. His average first serve speed went up from 196.8 km/h in the first set to 211.2 km/h in the second serve. Kyrgios was taking all his frustrations out on the ball, leading to him losing only four points on serve in his first four service games in the second set.
Sinner’s Ice Cool Conduct
As a storm raged around him, Jannik Sinner was unperturbed. His game face never changed. His shotmaking was consistent. He skilfully penetrated Kyrgios’s defenses. His return of serve was superb. In 2022, Kyrgios’s average first serve win rate is 76%. In this match, it was 69%. Sinner was ruthless even as Kyrgios imploded. The match point was an encapsulation of the match itself. Sinner returned the Kyrgios second serve deep and central. He then probed patiently from the baseline, suffocating Kyrgios with variation in pace and depth. Kyrgios eventually tried to go big and missed.
It was a thoroughly professional performance from Sinner.
Nick Kyrgios will now skip the clay season. This is his third loss to a top 10 player this year.
Jannik Sinner moves to 16-3 for the season, by far his best start to a year. Blisters forced him to retire from his match against Francisco Cerúndolo, but big things are ahead.
P.S. Jannik Sinner was asked if he understood why Kyrgios was getting so upset. His response? “Oh, I don’t know. Ask him.”
P.P.S. At the end of the match, Kyrgios had some… colourful words to say to Carlos Bernades. I will not transcribe it here because it’s frankly disgusting. The following is a video of the end of the match.