Nick Kyrgios begins his Acapulco title defence on Tuesday as he battles French Next Gen star, Ugo Humbert in the first round.
Kyrgios vs Humbert is live from Acapulco on Tuesday, 25 February from 10:00pm local time/ Wednesday, 26 February from 4:00am GMT
Kyrgios produced a sensational run in Acapulco last season, taking down top-ten players, Rafael Nadal, John Isner and Alexander Zverev, as well as three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka in a fantastic title run; all of this while he was ranked 72nd in the world.
The Australian would go on to claim another ATP 500 title later last year in Washington, beating two more top-ten players, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev along the way. Those two tournaments were reminders of the abilities of the man when he does get his tennis right- just in case anyone had forgotten.
Unfortunately, he has not been able to produce that sort of form as regularly as many would have hoped. Apart from those superb weeks in Acapulco and Washington, Kyrgios did not make any other quarter finals in 2019, with his best results being third round runs in Miami and the US Open. He was again affected by injuries, and did not play again after a first round loss to Andreas Seppi in Zhuhai in September. The Aussie ended his season at 30th on the rankings.
Kyrgios has had a promising start to 2020, helping Australia to the semi-finals of the ATP Cup and reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open, where he pushed Nadal hard in a four-set loss. Inspired his desire to assist victims of the devastating Australian bushfires, Kyrgios competed with admirable focus and determination, compiling a 6-2 start to the season.
He was scheduled to compete at last week’s Delray Beach Open, but the world No. 23 pulled out of the tournament with a wrist injury. He has sufficiently recovered from that and will play for the first time since the Australian Open on Tuesday when he faces rising star, Ugo Humbert.
It’s a tough start for Kyrgios, as Humbert has been rising very speedily over the past year, and is coming off a semi-final run in Delray Beach, where he defeated Stefan Kozlov, Miomir Kecmanovic and Frances Tiafoe before losing to Yoshihito Nishioka.
Humbert has also claimed his maiden career title this season, taking down Casper Ruud, Marco Cecchinato, Denis Shapovalov, John Isner and Benoit Paire in a high quality title run in Auckland. While he’s had those two tremendous weeks in 2020, he’s also had a few quiet ones, like at the Australian Open and Montpellier, where he lost out in the first round. Still, it’s still been a fine start to the year for the 21-year-old, who is currently operating at a career-high ranking of 43.
Humbert started last year just outside the top-100, but finished at 57th, having peaked at No. 46 in the course of the season. The highlights of his campaign were semi-finals in Marseille, Newport and Antwerp, while he also made the fourth round at Wimbledon, and added Challenger titles in Cherbourg, Istanbul and Brest.
Having got off to a good start in 2020, can he produce another strong week in Acapulco?
Humbert will be in confident mood as he takes on Kyrgios for the first time, and has definitely got a great shot of taking down the Australian, but just as he showed at this tournament last season, the mercurial Kyrgios can blast out anyone at any time, regardless of prevailing form.