It’s showtime for Nick Kyrgios after his third-round US Open match was given top billing in New York.
Kyrgios’s clash with Illya Marchenko has been scheduled as the feature match under the bright lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday night (Sunday 11am AEST).
The Australian crowd favourite warmed up for his first appearance on centre court this campaign with a lively second-round doubles win with Brit Daniel Evans on Friday.
Inconvenienced by a hip flexor injury during his two singles wins, Kyrgios dispelled any fitness concerns with an agile and energetic display on a jam-packed court six.
But Marchenko, ranked 47 places below Kyrgios, is looking to upstage the 14th seed on tennis’s biggest arena.
“I beat Monfils here last year, I beat Ferrer this year. So I know everything can happen and I can play really good and I can beat those guys,” Marchenko said after reaching the last 32 at a grand slam for the first time.
“It depends on how I’m going to feel during the match and how he’s going to feel.
“Every day is a new day and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Marchenko has been dogged by crippling knee injuries for the past five years but believes he has returned to career-best shape in 2016.
The Ukraine knows full well what to expect from Kyrgios, having watched the 21-year-old emerge – in a hurry – from the second-tier Challenger circuit.
“He just likes to make unbelievable shots and unbelievable attacks,” Marchenko said.
“I’m kind of a guy who likes to play more solid, play some rallies to make him make mistakes.
“I’m going to enjoy it anyway.”
Kyrgios is treating the 28-year-old with due respect, especially after Marchenko made light work of Bernard Tomic’s conqueror Damir Dzumhur in the second round.
“He’s a pretty solid competitor,” Kyrgios said.
“Always takes pride in his work ethic. Loves to stay back and grind.”
Kyrgios, though, has been highly impressive in storming through his opening two matches without dropping a yet and remains a hot favourite to advance to the last 16 in New York for the first time.
If he wins, Kyrgios will square off with Stan Wawrinka for a quarter-final spot – unless his doubles partner Evans can upset Switzerland’s two-time grand slam champion in their third-round encounter earlier on Saturday.