Nick Kyrgios outguns Sebastian Baez to set up popcorn Daniil Medvedev clash in Montreal

Nick Kyrgios breezed past Sebastian Baez in the opening round of the Montreal Masters on Tuesday to set up a mouthwatering clash with world No 1 Daniil Medvedev. The Wimbledon runner-up is now on a seven-match winning streak since losing his maiden Grand Slam final to Novak Djokovic, following a 6-4 6-4 win over the world No 32.

Kyrgios arrived in Montreal fresh off the back of winning the singles and doubles titles in Washington last week, becoming the first man in Citi Open history to lift both trophies in one appearance. And the Aussie picked up exactly where he left off as he raced to a 4-0 lead, breaking Baez twice. 

The Argentine finally got on the board and managed to hold before the world No 37 found himself serving for the set at 5-2 but he appeared bothered during the game as he was broken to love, failing to close out the opener. It marked the first time since the third set of his Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic that Kyrgios had his serve broken.

But he made up for it when serving for the set again two games later, taking it 6-4 in 43 minutes. The Wimbledon runner-up appeared more subdued at the beginning of the second set but continued to fire huge serves down the court, and broke to take a 3-2 lead midway through the second.

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The 26-year-old continued to impress with his shotmaking, including a hug 152km/h winner as Baez held for 3-4. And it was the 21-year-old’s turn to enjoy some trickshots as he hit a tweener lob winner during the next game on Kyrgios’ serve – a shot that would often be seen in the Aussie’s repertoire – earning approval from the man himself as the Washington champion smiled and laughed.

But Kyrgios still held to put himself within a game of the match at 6-4 5-3. The nerves started to creep in for Baez, who hit his first two double faults of the match as he served to stay in it. The world No 32 survive and forced the Australian to serve out the match himself, managing to save three match points. But Kyrgios had no problem with his opponent’s sudden surge as he quickly created a fourth match point and closed out a 6-4 6-4 victory in an hour and 25 minutes to advance to round two.

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Kyrgios will now face world No 1 and reigning US Open champion Medvedev in the second round, in what will be the fourth match of their careers. The Aussie has the edge with a 2-1 lead in their head-to-head but lost their most recent encounter at this year’s Australian Open in an entertaining four-set match. 

The 26-year-old beat Medvedev in the Washington final three years ago, having won the Citi Open in 2019 as well as last week, and got the better of the top seed in their very first meeting back at the 2019 Rome Masters. And their Montreal second round will be an interesting instalment in their rivalry, with both men in top form after winning titles last week as Medvedev was victorious in Los Cabos.

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