There will be a new U.S. Open champion and a new world No. 1 — all thanks to Nick Kyrgios.
The fiery Australian played brilliant tennis and kept his antics more or less under control on the biggest stage in tennis as he defeated world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev, 7-6(11), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, to advance his first U.S. Open quarterfinal. No. 23 Kyrgios improved to 4-1 against Medvedev, whom he also beat last month in Montreal.
“If he plays like this, you’re going to see Kyrgios in the final,” John McEnroe said on ESPN.
The victory snapped a 10-match winning streak at the Open for Medvedev, who a year ago ended Novak Djokovic’s bid to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the calendar Grand Slam.
Medvedev will fall from the No. 1 ranking and No. 3-ranked Rafael Nadal remains in pole position to recapture world No. 1 for the first time since Feb. 2, 2020. With Medvedev’s loss, the last man to defend a Grand Slam title not named Nadal, Djokovic or Roger Federer was Gustavo Kuerten in 2001.
Kyrgios, meantime, is following up his run to the Wimbledon final where he lost to Djokovic in four sets by making a run in New York. After long being one of the most talented yet under-performing players on the men’s tour — he had lost four times in the third round in New York and had never won a match in Arthur Ashe Stadium until last week — he is now combining mental and physical toughness with his vast reservoir of talent.
“It was an amazing match,” Kyrgios told Patrick McEnroe on court. “Obviously, Daniil is defending champion, a lot of pressure on his shoulders, but I played really well. I’ve been playing amazing the last couple months.
“But what a place to do it, a packed house in New York, I’m extremely blessed.”
Asked when it finally clicked in his head that he wanted to take a more serious approach to tennis, Kyrgios said, “I’m still trying to figure it out, honestly. I’m still trying to work hard every day, trying to make every practice session count. Getting to sleep, before I would probably be out every night.
“I’ve got a great girlfriend, she helps me, she…you know. And my team, it’s all my team and I’m just really happy and hopefully I can keep it going.”
He will next face Russian No. 27 seed Karen Khachanov, who prevailed in five sets over No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta. Kyrgios and Khachanov are tied 1-all in their career.
Kyrgios took a very high level first set in a tiebreak despite cursing at his box while directing them to tell him where to serve, smashing his racket to the ground and engaging with the umpire about the serve clock.
Early in the second set, Kyrgios smacked a ball against the back of the court, narrowly missing hitting a fan in the first row, which surely would’ve ended in ejection from the tournament.
He took a two-sets-to-one lead with a forehand drop shot that Medvedev raced down only to hit it into the net.
He then seized a break for 2-1 in the fourth when Medvedev smacked a two-handed backhand into the net.
“I’m just glad I’m finally able to show New York my talent, honestly,” Kyrgios said. “I haven’t had many good trips here, I haven’t played great tennis. I’m really glad I’m finally able to show you guys the work and the dedication, finally, it took me 27 years.”
With Medvedev serving at 1-3, 30-40, Kyrgios asked for the crowd’s support by holding out his right palm to the fans. He then crushed a crosscourt forehand that Medvedev deposited into the net for a double-break.
Medvedev, who at times appeared frustrated with the noise coming from the Kyrgios box, then slumped his shoulders and smacked a ball against the back of the court in frustration.
Kyrgios closed the match out with an ace and then shook Medvedev’s hand at the net.
“I want to go all the way,” he said, “and hopefully it’s possible.”