The enigmatic Australian Nick Kyrgios suffered a significant drop in the rankings this August, but still arrives in New York as the 30th seed. He begins his campaign against world #95 Radu Albot, from Moldova. Albot has only become a regular fixture at the Slams in the past couple of years, but his best two performances - third round exits - came at the US Open last year, and at Wimbledon this year where he lost to Isner. Who will come out on top?
This will be the first meeting between Kyrgios and Albot. In terms of experience, Kyrgios has the edge. However, for all his talent, he has never made it past the third round at the US Open. He has also been knocked out in the first round on three of his five trips to the Big Apple. Albot’s record is not dissimilar; he has played four times at the US Open, being knocked out in the first round on the first three occasions before making the third round last year.
Last time out
Kyrgios’ last tournament was the Cincinnati Masters, in which he made the third round. He edged out world #77 Denis Kudla in the first round, before defeating world #21 Borna Coric in three sets. Following that he faced world #3 Juan Martin Del Potro, who he was able to match it with for two sets before being blown away in the third. Unfortunately for the Australian, after making the final last year, that-third round exit cost him a fair number of ranking points.
Albot has made just one appearance so far during the North American hard court swing, at the Winston-Salem Open last week in North Carolina. After making it through qualifying, where he was the top seed, with wins over players ranked outside the top 200, he had a first-round bye. Following that, however, he succumbed to lucky loser Guido Andreozzi, the world #118, in straight sets, in what was surely a disappointing loss for the Moldovan.
How do they match up?
There is no questioning Kyrgios’ talent. His serve is one of the best in the game, thanks to the power and accuracy he can summon when stepping to the line. He also has plenty of quality off the ground. His forehand, in particular, is exceptionally dangerous, and his backhand is also solid, though he can struggle to deal with low balls on that wing. Expect him to do the majority of the attacking in this contest.
Standing at just 5’9”, Albot lacks power, but covers the court well. His groundstrokes are accurate, and he will give little away. He will need to serve well, however. He does not have the sort of quality that Kyrgios possesses in that area of the game, and if he is below par on his own deal, Kyrgios will punish him. But if he can keep the match tight, Kyrgios, not the strongest of players mentally, could fade from the contest.
Though it’s difficult to predict any Kyrgios match with great certainty given his lack of consistency, he shouldn’t have too many problems advancing through to the second round. Albot deserves praise for maximising his potential despite a fairly limited skill set, but the gulf in talent between the two players is significant and surely too great for Albot to bridge. Barring a Kyrgios meltdown, this should be a straight sets win for the Australian.