Editor’s note: This story was first published on 7 May 2020
Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios met for the first time at the 2015 Mutua Madrid Open, and it’s a match nobody will soon forget.
Kyrgios, then only 20, saved two match points en route to a thrilling 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(12) victory over two hours and 37 minutes. The Aussie relished the opportunity to perform against Federer on one of the sport’s biggest stages.
“I guess that’s why you play the game, to play on these big courts against these big players. He’s the greatest of all‑time, no doubt,” Kyrgios said. “When you’re growing up and playing and watching these guys, you want to go out there. That’s one thing I think about every time I step out against one of these guys on a court like that.”
Blessed to play one of my childhood heroes in Roger Federer. Blessed to get the win tonight 7-6 6-7 7-6 (14-12).
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) May 6, 2015
Kyrgios had upset Rafael Nadal the previous year at Wimbledon, stunning the Spaniard in four sets. But that was on grass, which caters to the Aussie’s aggressive game.
Kyrgios showed no fear of the Swiss star on Madrid’s clay, though, thrusting both arms in the air after Federer pushed an inside-out forehand wide to end the match.
“I definitely knew from the start that I could make an impact in the match,” Kyrgios said. “I thought I served really well. I got a bit of luck and I took the chances [I had].”
Kyrgios hit 22 aces and won 79 per cent of his first-serve points, which was better than Federer’s 78 per cent behind his first delivery. World No. 2 Federer won four more points than the World No. 35, but it was not enough.
“He likes the big stage and he’s got nothing to lose, no fear and he’s got a great game,” Federer said. “He can rely on his serve so much that it keeps him in the match regardless of how he plays from the baseline. It’s one of those matches, but no doubt about it, it was impressive.”
Kyrgios lost his next match against John Isner, but he left Spain with a victory to remember. Federer has won their six ATP Head2Head matches since, but four of those battles have gone to a deciding set, with two going to a final-set tie-break.