Nick Kyrgios’ eagerly-awaited first-round US Open showdown with Andy Murray has been given prime-time billing on American TV.
The marquee match-up has been scheduled as the feature night match at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday as broadcasters cash in on two of the most marketable players in tennis.
Five-times champion Roger Federer has been a fixture on the Open’s night schedule for years, but the Swiss superstar this year will open his campaign against Leonardo Mayer in the centre-court day session to make way for Murray and Kyrgios.
Kyrgios is vowing to let his racquet do the talking as he bids to spring the first big shock of the Open after spending the past month embroiled in controversy.
Condemned and sanctioned for his trash talking, Australia’s two-time grand slam quarter-finalist hopes to remind fans of his playing talents with an upset win over Scotland’s third-seeded former champion.
He is just one of nine Australians in action, but all eyes will be on Kyrgios when the 20-year-old hits the court for the first time since copping a four-week suspended ban for his crude sledging of French Open champion Stan Wawrinka at the Montreal Masters.
Despite falling to Murray in all three previous clashes, including in straight sets in Melbourne and Paris, Kyrgios believes he can turn the tables on the Scot to really shake up the men’s draw.
“I’ve played him three times now, I know what his strengths are and know how to play it. I just have to execute it on the day,” Kyrgios said in his first interview since being placed on notice by the ATP.
A quarter-finalist at the Australian Open despite battling a back injury, Kyrgios feels the best he has all year after a torrid week training with Lleyton Hewitt at the former world No.1’s Bahamas base.
“Obviously having Lleyton on court’s helped me a lot,” he said.
“I feel like I’ve been practising well, my preparation’s been really good and I feel like I’m playing some really good tennis.
“He’s (Murray) in form too, probably playing the best tennis of his life, winning Montreal and losing to Federer last week, pretty tight, so I know that he’s one of the best players in the world at the moment.
“I just have to go out there and play the right style of game and believe I can win.”
The match could also serve as a Davis Cup preview with Australia set to take on Great Britain in the semi-finals in Glasgow the week after the US Open.
Kyrgios had been planning to team up with Kokkinakis in the doubles in New York, but they were notable absentees when the draw was released on Monday.