In one of the most anticipated clashes of the Tuesday's schedule in New York, Nick Kyrgios will face Steve Johnson in the last match on the Louis Armstrong Stadium. After that dreadful performance against Karen Khachanov in the second round in Cincinnati when he attacked the chair umpire Fergus Murphy for almost the entire match, Nick will have to be careful not to repeat the same in New York after already receiving one of the biggest fines in tennis ever.
Nick and Steve are good friends off the court and that should help the Aussie to stay calm and focus on the rival and not the things around him, with the American praising the abilities of the young Aussie and describing him as a potential top-5 player.
Nick has won five out of seven encounters against the rivals from the top-10 so far in 2019 and two ATP 500 titles in Acapulco and Washington, hoping for a good run at the US Open as well but facing a tough obstacle in the first round, with Johnson who is trying to regain the ranking position after dropping out from the top-90, conquering Aptos Challenger and reaching the semi-final in Winston-Salem.
Nick and Steve played once before, in Shanghai 2017 when the Aussie retired after losing the opening set in the tie break. "You have to focus on what you're trying to accomplish, what's working and what's doesn't for you on the court, things you can fix," Johnson said.
"I will try to focus on my side of the net and Nick is going to do what he's going to do and if I can control my side, I feel pretty confident in my abilities. He's one of the best servers in the game, extremely talented.
Mentally, it is different from day to day, he has the talent to be a top-five guy but this is a hard sport; it's hard to put your best foot forward every day and that's what we all try and do. Nick is a super nice guy, I always enjoy my time with him.
Off the court, he loves to talk basketball and we kind of hang out, it is going to be a fun match for sure. My approach will be to take care of business on my serve, try and hold every time I've got the balls in my court.
And when he's serving, just try and get in as many points as possible and just be as mentally tough game in and game out and hopefully make him work for it. That's what I do regardless of who I'm playing against and that's going to be the game plan out there versus Kyrgios too."