Nick Kyrgios is finding his top form at the right time, surging past Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-5 to reach the China Open final on Saturday.
Looking to claw into contention for the Nitto ATP Finals, Kyrgios gave a significant boost to his chances with his second ATP World Tour final of the season. The Aussie, winner of nine of his past 11 matches, entered Beijing on the heels of a run to the title match in Cincinnati and has dropped just one set en route to a championship clash with Rafael Nadal.
Kyrgios now sits in 15th position in the Emirates ATP Race To London with his semi-final victory, eclipsing the 2,000-point mark. He will face Nadal for fifth time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (tied 2-2) and third this year, having split encounters at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 stops in Madrid and Cincinnati.
“I’m very happy,” said Kyrgios. “It’s always very tough playing Zverev. He’s had a great year and is one of the best players in the world right now. He’s got a massive future ahead of him, but I played really well tonight and knew what my game plan was going to be.
“Every match for me is the same. I try to serve big and play big. I treat every match the same and will have a chance to play the final against one of the greatest of all time tomorrow. We’re 2-2 and he’s going to want some revenge from the last time we played. I’m excited. Whatever happens will happen.”
One of the more intense and riveting rivalries of the season, Kyrgios and Zverev battled for the fourth time in 2017. Zverev had prevailed in their most recent meeting in Montreal, but on Saturday it was Kyrgios getting the upper hand after one hour and 17 minutes.
One break in each set proved to be the difference, with both coming on Zverev double faults. Eighth seed Kyrgios would close out the first set with an unreturned serve, and despite failing to convert on a pair of break chances to open the second, he would capitalise on a 15/40 look at 6-5.
Kyrgios closed out the match with a hold to love, firing another service winner to seal the victory. He earned 25 winners, to Zverev’s seven, while firing 11 aces in total. The 22 year old improved to 3-1 in their budding FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry.
Kyrgios will appear in his sixth ATP World Tour final, vying for a fourth title. This week in 2016, he lifted the trophy at the subsequent Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo, and will look to become the fourth player to win at both 500-level events. Only Nadal, Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych have achieved the feat.
Zverev, meanhwile, is coming off a signature moment in his young career, having secured his place at The O2 in London for the first time. The German punched his ticket to the Nitto ATP Finals with a quarter-final win over fellow #NextGenATP Andrey Rublev on Friday. He leaves Beijing with 4,310 points in the Emirates ATP Race To London, solidifying his spot in the third position.