Facing each other for the third time in 2018, Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios were involved in another thriller in the Stuttgart semi-final, with the Swiss prevailing 6-7, 6-2, 7-6 and advancing into the 148th ATP final and the first in Stuttgart! The match lasted an hour and 51 minutes, and Roger was the better player on the court, never facing a break point and dominating the second set when he broke Nick twice. The encounter went into a deciding tie break, and Roger bounced back from a 3-1 deficit, winning the last two points at 5-5 to grab the victory and become world no. 1 again. Roger and Nick had played nine sets against each other at that point, and eight of those went into a tie break, all except the second from this one when Federer had the upper hand. Nick hit 23 aces but couldn’t defend his second serve in a way Roger did, losing ground in the closing stages to miss a chance of playing in his first final since the season opener in Brisbane.
Federer lost eight points on serve in the opening set, but Nick scored three of those return points when he needed them the most in the tie break, clinching it 7-2 and gaining the advantage. The Aussie saved a break chance with a volley winner in game two to avoid an early setback before hitting a double fault to give Roger another opportunity in game eight. A powerful serve got Nick out of jail, and they both served well in the remaining games to set up a tie break. Kyrgios opened it with two service winners and grabbed a mini-break in the fourth point when he forced Roger’s error with good backhands.
Roger Federer prevailed over Nick Kyrgios in Stuttgart 2018.
Two more service winners pushed the Aussie 5-2 up, and a backhand winner gave him another mini-break and four set points. He converted the first to take the opening set in style, hoping for more of the same in set number two. It was the other way around, though, with Roger serving at 72% and dropping two points behind the initial shot, too much for Nick to handle.
The Aussie served under 50% and lost almost half of the points in his games to get broken twice. The first break of the match came at 1-1 after Kyrgios’ back-to-back double faults. The younger player wasted two game points at 2-4 to suffer another break after a weak forehand, fading from the court in the last 15 minutes. Three service winners finished the job for Roger in game eight (Nick barely bothered to make an effort on the return), and the match went into a decider, with momentum on Federer’s side. The Swiss played great tennis in the final set, dropping only six points behind his serve and keeping the pressure on the Aussie, who responded nicely to set up an attractive closure.
There were no deuces or break chances, and the best way to determine the winner was to hit another tie break that Nick opened with a mind-blowing forehand return in the second point before forging a 3-1 advantage with a service winner. Roger pulled a mini-break back in the next point and moved 5-4 up with a mini-break when Nick sent a forehand into the net. It wasn’t over, though, as Federer missed a forehand in the next point to keep Kyrgios alive, ahead of the match point for one of them. Staying focused, Federer earned it with a volley winner and moved over the top after a backhand winner to reach the final and claim the ATP throne for the third time in 2018.