Back in 2018, there were no Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray in the fourth round of Miami Masters, leaving the door wide open for all the opponents to fight for the title. In one of the most anticipated encounters, Alexander Zverev defeated Nick Kyrgios 6-4, 6-4 in 71 minutes for the second win over the Aussie in less than two months, scoring the first at the beginning of February in the Davis Cup.
Nick was the semi-finalist in Miami in 2016 and 2017, defeating Zverev here in Miami a year ago but not being able to repeat the same this time around, struggling with injury and missing all the action between that Davis Cup tie and the second Masters 1000 event of the season.
It was their sixth encounter and the third victory for the German who dropped 12 points behind the initial shot and got broken once. That wasn't enough for Nick to stay in contention, struggling with back problems in the first part of the match and suffering three breaks in total to push Zverev over the finish line and into the last eight.
The German served well and kept the upper hand with his reliable groundstrokes, especially the backhand that had caused him troubles in recent times. Nick had more service winners but that couldn't make the difference for him, hitting only six winners from the court and 35 errors in total while Zverev stayed on 23 mistakes.
Alexander had only one loose service game while serving for the opener at 5-3 and that didn't cost him much, playing well in his games until the end of the encounter to complete the triumph in straight sets. Last fall in Beijing, Nick blasted 32 service winners against Alexander and also stayed in touch from the baseline in the longer rallies to wait for a chance on the return patiently.
He couldn't repeat that in this one, though, losing 43% of the points in his games and never finding a rhythm that would put Zverev under pressure. Besides, the Aussie failed to impose his shots and gain the advantage with the variety that would keep Zverev out of the rhythm, missing drop shots and spraying too many basic errors to plague his chances.
He had a 20-15 advantage in service winners and that pretty much kept him in contention since he couldn't trust his groundstrokes from both wings. We can see that clearly by taking a look at winners from the field where Zverev dominated by 17-6, opening the court more efficiently and delivering six forehand and eight backhand winners.
Alexander tamed his shots nicely, staying on just 13 unforced errors while Nick counted to 25, missing equally from both wings and in short intervals. Kyrgios had nine forced errors in comparison to seven from Alexander, with the German committing three doubles faults to one from Nick, not the gap that we should consider.
Overall, Zverev finished the match with 32 winners and 23 errors while Kyrgios stood on a 26-35 ratio, winning 18 points less than his opponent and doing all he could to grab those eight games. The German was 42-35 ahead in the shortest points up to four strokes, which tells us he did more damage with his first groundstroke, also taking more rallies in the mid-range department with five to eight strokes, prevailing 14-10.
Alexander claimed 11 out of 15 most extended exchanges, earning the victory fair and square to find himself in the last eight.