Nick Kyrgios entered the 2016 US Open with well over a week’s rest. However, nine sets of tennis at the Grand Slam was all that it took to send the over-rated Aussie to the sidelines. Kyrgios tapped out injured in the third round on Saturday evening from New York with a hip injury. The result sent Ilya Marchenko through to the fourth round while, for Kyrgios, his fans are left to wonder what the future will bring.
The Aussie is considered a major talent on tour despite not really proving it. He won ATP Atlanta about a month ago, one of only two titles that he has earned during his time on tour. However, no one who made the US Open’s fourth round this season was in the Atlanta draw at all so you could say that the title was relatively uncontested.
That his result in New York is the result of an injury makes his grade in Flushing Meadows no less failing. Kyrgios, after winning in Atlanta, didn’t play a lot of tennis. He went out early in Cincinnati and should have been fully prepared for Flushing Meadows in my view. It could be telling of how his career may go that only nine sets of action against weak competition exposed an injury.
For those looking for the next great star after the Big Four Era, I think you have to look elsewhere besides Kyrgios. That’s something that I’ve been saying for a while. I really didn’t expect anything from Kyrgios this season and, with his Grand Slam season over, he certainly didn’t prove me wrong.
In fact, I do not expect all that much from him next season, because I don’t think he’s built right for consistent deep runs in majors. He’s like Juan Martin del Potro and Milos Raonic: they may triumph on any given day or in any given tournament, but the 11-month season is too much for them. I don’t question the drive or desire of any of them and, while they might peak for however short of a time, they aren’t built to endure. They are too tall, lanky, and lacking in smooth coordination.
Lucas Pouille and Dominic Thiem are two players that are far more likely to endure on tour. Pouille just pulled off a large upset in the fourth round of the US Open, defeating Rafael Nadal on Sunday. Thiem remains alive in the draw as he will face Juan Martin del Potro on Monday. That Pouille has made back-to-back quarters in back-to-back Grand Slams is more impressive than anything Kyrgios has ever done. Furthermore, Thiem’s run to the French Open semifinals trumps Kyrgios’ best Slam and, unlike the Aussie, the Austrian has a nice collection of titles to his credit as well.
Natural talent counts for a lot, but actually being able to play the big matches is more important. Looking ahead at the future, I think Pouille and Thiem are the guys that will endure in 2017. I think they are the players that will lead the pack in a new era of men’s tennis. How far that new era is away, remains to be seen.
However, Federer is going to slide out to about 15th or so before he attempts to catch up. Nadal just went out in the US Open’s fourth round despite actually playing pretty good since returning from injury. Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are near or at the peaks of their powers still but they are also in their late 20’s.
You have to think that Thiem, an emerging clay courter, will be in the mix for next year’s French Open and then maybe the favorite for 2018’s. With Pouille, he’s looking like a man for all surfaces, but it’s still grass and cement where he has really proven that he’s a late-round threat.
Those two players will go a long way to help make all the hype surrounding Kyrgios disappear soon. So many people seemed to think that he was the next big thing heading into 2016. But if only nine sets of recent tennis and Ilya Marchenko exposes an injury then Kyrgios is just looking like the next big flop.