Dubai SF preview and prediction: Wawrinka vs. Kyrgios

The unfriendly rivalry between Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios will add a second chapter on Friday in Dubai. Kyrgios’ hot streak has carried him into the semifinals as he aims for a second consecutive ATP title.

Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios will be squaring off for the third time in their careers and for the first time since one of the most well-documented incidents in ATP Tour history when they meet again in the semifinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Friday evening.

They faced each other twice last year, the first showdown coming and going without too much bad blood as Wawrinka prevailed 6-3, 6-4 on the grass courts of Queen’s Club. To say things escalated two months later at the Montreal Masters would be a gross understatement. Kyrgios advanced via retirement while leading 6-7(8), 6-3, 4-0, but it was what he famously muttered in Wawrinka’s direction that stole headlines not only in tennis circles but even in the entire sports world.

Kyrgios was hit with a provisional suspension of 28 days and a $25,000 fine that would only take effect only if he incurred more than $5,000 in fines at ATP-sanctioned tournaments in a sixth-month span. Coincidentally, that period ended on Wednesday.

For the most part the 20-year-old has let his game do the talking in 2016. After a relatively disappointing loss to Tomas Berdych in round three of the Australian Open, Kyrgios is a perfect 8-0–and it is Berdych who has felt the brunt of the hot streak. Kyrgios crushed the Czech 6-4, 6-2 in last week’s Marseille semifinals on the way to his first career ATP title and beat Berdych again 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday. The Aussie initially looked like he count not handle another event so soon after his triumph over Marin Cilic last Sunday, as he seemed lifeless for a set and a half against Martin Klizan on Tuesday. But Klizan let him off the ropes and Kyrgios clawed back for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory. He did not lose serve a single time against Mikhail Kukushkin or Berdych, meaning the world No. 33 has now progressed through seven of his last eight matches without getting broken.

Wawrinka lost in the Marseille quarterfinals to good friend Benoit Paire, thus denying a potential final collision between Wawrinka and Kyrgios. The fourth-ranked Swiss has bounced back in Dubai with defeats of Sergiy Stakhovsky (5-7, 6-3, 7-5), Franko Skugor (7-5, 6-1), and Philipp Kohlschreiber (7-5, 6-1).
Wawa 2

Kyrgios showed signs of a back issue during his quarterfinal defeat of Berdych, but a huge opportunity awaits him if he is 100 percent. In his last four sets, the colorful but controversial character has fired 21 aces while holding all 19 of his service games. Wawrinka, who would much prefer to contest this matchup on a slower surface, has not served at better than 56 percent in any of his three outings this week.

Pick: Kyrgios in 3

58 Comments on Dubai SF preview and prediction: Wawrinka vs. Kyrgios

  1. Wawrinka in 3

    I’m so torn on this one…So much uncertainty in the air with the Back Issue. Also a big revenge spot for Wawrinka after last year’s debacle…If I were Wawrinka, I’m putting 100% effort to beat this punk and shut him up. No question Kyrgios is on fire, but the Back issue will probably flare up imo when times get tough in the match. He’ll probably use the trainer time as a moment to try and swing the momentum away from Wawrinka. This should be a great match!

    • If Nick does what he did – take a MTO then pop out with the in yo’ face jump shot and other antics like he did today v Berdych, I can see that setting Stan off. Berdych just tried to ignore it or had a bewildered look. Stan will demand more control, I’m guessing. Looking forward to it!

      Completely had me believing the back was a problem at times. Other times I couldn’t help laughing. But seriously felt like he should be flying to Kooyong if his back was bothering him that much.

  2. Kyrigos in 3 is what I voted. But it could go the other way. I’m not at all sure. All I know right now is that whenever Kyrgios is on the schedule, I’m going to be entertained.

  3. I’m taking NK in straights but I think anything is possible. Either one could win in two or three. I just think Kyrgios has the edge because of his rock solid serve. Stan on the other hand is a bit too vulnerable on serve compared to Kyrgios. I like both guys and would like seeing Kyrgios make final but I am rooting a bit more for Stan to take this one. My pick is Kyrgios in 2 but if Stanimal is on fire, he’ll be hard to stop, even for a red hot Kyrgios.

  4. To be honest though Stan may realize his opportunity with Nole out and step it up and beat NK. I wanna say Stan will use their Montreal match as a motivator to get revenge but I think it might make it even worse for Stan. Hope Wawrinka gets the W though. C’mon Stan!!????

      • Yeah. I usually go with my bias but I like Kyrgios too so maybe that’s why I’m ok with picking against Stan. I hope I jinx it though because I’m still going for Stan though I wouldn’t mind seeing NK prevail.

  5. Tennis Channel showing the replay of Kyrgios v Berdych right now. Pretty funny stuff. Annabelle Croft is trying not to but can’t help herself – she’s falling for Nick. The male commentator, whoever he is, is not a Nick fan, lol…

  6. Definitely Stan to win… He is and will be motivated to win this one. That service % will go up. Cmon Warwrinka

  7. Hope the back issue is not a serious one…Nick has great opportunity to win this tourney if he beats Wawa…I am in for Nick in 2. I think Nick has to get it done in 2 otherwise he will end up losing in 3

    Wawa will be nervous…he is still bothered with the incident I believe…I hope Nick would be smart enough to not make a show of this and does not get tempted to tease Wawa again…it could get ugly then..

    Lét’s go, Nick! You can do it! Take another top 10 scalp!

  8. the commentator is saying Nick did not even practice before the match with Berdych…he was in pain…yet he managed to win the match…amazing…

  9. Stan’s the man. Bossed the 1st set. And handles everything Nick’s got, so far.
    Nick’s being out-played and taking it well at the moment. Unbelievable drop shot by Stan.

    Can’t be fun for Nick. Nothing’s working. Nick retires…phew

  10. I don’t think Wawa will be pleased with this match…leading two breaks up against an injured Kyrgios and managed to blow it…he is lucky Nick was really not able to play today…

  11. I may not be a fan of his but I do hope for his sake the back is not a chronic problem but something which can be treated.

  12. Nick retired with back injury? Guess it’s pretty serious. I hope he is ok for Davis cup. Get better Nick. And congrats to Stan on making the final. Title is pretty much his now. Huge for Stanimal.

  13. I had a feeling the back was downplayed after the Berdych win because of how he came out and played afterwards. Good win for Stan! I guess he really wants this Dubai Title considering both Fed and Nole aren’t going to win it. Next year’s draw should be quite interesting if Wawrinka pulls through.

    Tough break for Kyrgios. During this run Kyrgios did prove that he has Top 5 Level Talent and that at some point, he’s going to be at least a Semifinalist in an upcoming Major.

    Let’s see how this Bagman vs Flo matchup goes! I like Baghdatis’ enthusiasm for this tournament and his beat down of RBA in the second set of their match (6-0) showed me that his conditioning looks to be solid. Baghdatis owns a 3-1 H2H against Feliciano Lopez as well and I think Baghdatis’ return and baseline game will push Flo off of his own.

    Baghdatis in 3 with at least one Tiebreaker

    • The back downplayed after Berdych win – yes – that’s it. Really hope Nick will be okay. (maybe I shouldn’t because it’s US v Aus) But I’m just wanting Nick healthy for IW, Miami and beyond.

      Aga, may be out of gas. Big opportunity for Carla Suarez-Navarro possible.
      And – go Ostapenko!

    • The concern is that Kyrgios appears to be having back problems early in his career. I thought he was out at one point last year for back problems. With all of his talent, one would hope that injuries don’t plague him.

      • Yes indeed, Nny. Not remembering if he had problems last year. Have only been paying more attention to Nick since the Stan incident last summer. I took his side – on the ‘give him a chance team’ and then fell for him watching IPTL and Hopman Cup.

        This would be a great opportunity confidence boost for Baghdatis or Lopez. Looks like it’s going to be Deliciano, maybe? or not.

      • Baghdatis in 3!

        Such a close match! Oddsmakers were right on the money about this match at 1.9 (-110)! Flo had plenty of opportunities, especially in that second set, but his inability to play off the baseline will always be his downfall. A few years back, I used to remember the ferocity that Baghdatis brought on the court everytime and he used to be 8th in the World at one point! Glad to see the Bagman in fine form once again!

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