Nick Kyrgios is off to a surging start in 2022, thanks in large part to one key stat: he’s playing break points better than he ever has in his nine-year career.
At the Miami Open, Kyrgios said he ratchets up his energy more on break points than for other points, but the main reason he’s handling those pressure moments so well is that he’s found a new calm in his off-court life.
“I’d probably say that as of now when I’m in those high-pressure situations and the breakpoints are coming, I look at my team and I find motivation and peace in playing those big points. I definitely put more into those points effort-wise. And, yeah, I guess there is definitely a correlation,” Kyrgios said.
After an underwhelming 7-8 record in 2021, Kyrgios fell out of the Top 100 in the world. That was then. Now he’s regaining form by torching through the Sunshine Double, losing only to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of Indian Wells and showing solid play in his first three rounds at Miami.
Break Points Saved
Two different kinds of break points set up dueling scenarios in tennis, and Kyrgios has vastly improved in both categories over last year.
The first scenario is on his serve. If an opponent earns a break point opportunity, Kyrgios is faced with having to fend it off. With his firecracker serve, Kyrgios is saving break points against him more than 76% of the time this year, according to ATPTour.com. By comparison, he was only doing that 59% of the time last year. And to really put it into perspective, for his career, he has saved break points against him 66% of the time. Translation: In 2022, Kyrgios has sky-high confidence that his serve will pull him through when his opponent has him pinned to the ropes.
Just to give you a picture of how good 76% is, consider that Rafael Nadal, a member of the Big 3, and Reilly Opelka, who has one of the best serves in tennis, each have been fending off break points against them 67% of the time in the past year. Nick is topping that benchmark by a lot.
Break Point Conversions
Not only is Kyrgios bailing himself out of jams, he’s also making trouble for his opponents by breaking serve at a high rate.
For his career, Nick has converted break points at a rate of 39%, which is not too shabby. Last year, during his dark period, Kyrios was only converting his break point opportunities at a rate of 29%. So already you can see how poorly he was handling the pressure points last year in comparison to what he usually does. But what about this year? Kyrgios is converting break points at a torrid rate of 46%. How good is that? Consider that for the past year, the 52-week period, the leaders in this category are Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic, each breaking their opponents’ serve at a rate of 45%. So Kyrgios bests that mark by a percentage point. He’s hanging with the big boys in this break point category.
He Really Is Handling Pressure Better
You might be tempted to think Kyrgios is simply serving better or faster than he did last year, and that’s why he’s able to fight off opponents’ break points better this year. But that’s not it.
In an uncanny phenomenon, Kyrgios is crushing aces at the same rate (5 per set)– and double faulting at the exact same low rate that he did last year (0.8 per set). The Kyrios serve does what it does. That is true if he’s having a good year or a bad year. His winning percentage on first serve this year? 78%. Last year? 77%. Almost identical. Ditto percentage of 2nd serve points won. In 2021 it was 51%. This year it is 50%. It’s weird how close those percentages are when his results are so markedly better this year.
So you have to dig a little deeper to figure out why he’s winning now, and that’s where the break point stats emerge like a beacon.
Kyrgios says he’s so much happier than he was.
“Every day was just constant negativity from you guys [in the media], from eventually my family, eventually from my friends, from everyone. There was no positivity, and it was just eating me up and I just genuinely hated my life.
So, you know, it’s taken a long time, and obviously I’m just towards a point where I’m just happy now. I don’t take anything for granted. I’ve got a beautiful girlfriend. My best friend is here. I’m playing some great tennis,” he said.
And to keep himself centered and attempt to maintain his newfound balance, Kyrgios confirmed he will skip all of clay season, and he feels great about that. Cheerio Kyrgios.