Kyrgios Caps Memorable Week With Citi Open Title

Nick Kyrgios (photo: Michael Dickens)

WASHINGTON, August 5, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)

There was so very little margin for error during Sunday’s Citi Open men’s singles final between unseeded Nick Kyrgios and third seed Daniil Medvedev – just a single point separated them out of the 143 points that were played – that it’s not surprising the men’s singles final at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center in northwest Washington, D.C. came down to a pair of tie breaks to decide its outcome. Neither player seemed surprised because they both serve so big – combining for a total of 28 aces between them (18 for Kyrgios and 10 for Medvedev).

In a tough match that was largely devoid of the acrobatic trick shots and theatrics that have characterized most of Kyrgios’ previous matches, the mercurial Aussie won 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) in one hour and 34 minutes.

As he had thrived upon all throughout his stay here in the nation’s capital city, especially during his night matches, the crowd had Kyrgios’ back; they showered him with support, shouting “Let’s go, Nick!” and “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy, Oy, Oy.” It’s a good thing because Kyrgios needed all their support after he took a medical time out for a much-needed massage to alleviate back spasms. However, it appeared, the rubdown seemed to rejuvenate Kyrgios for the balance of the match.

“We are both good after the serve,” said Medvedev, whose ranking moved up a notch to No. 9. “So, even if you return the ball on the court, it’s tough to win a point against us on the serve.

“And that’s why it was a tough match, as you say, with a small margin. Just two tie breaks, zero break points, and (Kyrgios) managed to be better on the tie breaks today. I did some free mistakes that I shouldn’t have done, and he didn’t do, and that’s why he won.”

Kyrgios concurred with Medvedev, saying, “The match was super close and obviously just happened to get through that first set was massive.

“As a whole, this week has been amazing. It’s been definitely an experience I won’t ever forget.”

After playing doubles with Stefanos Tsitsipas and losing against the No. 1 team in the world, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, Kyrgios settled into the singles draw and, round by round, simply got stronger – and, sometimes, so did the drama. However, when Kyrgios focused on his tennis, he was unbeatable. It should be noted that he played six tie breaks during the week and went 6-0 – something he described in one single word: “Clutch.”

Asked to explain, Kyrgios did so in a most polite tone of voice. “Definitely knew today wasn’t going to be easy. I mean, I went into that final, I think, massively … the underdog for sure. (Daniil) has been one of the consistent players for the last year and a half. He’s been winning titles. Probably a contender at any event he plays. He’s so solid.

“To walk away as a champion is pretty special,” said Kyrgios. “This is probably my most memorable title, honestly, so far.”

It was the second title in 2019 for Kyrgios following his triumph earlier this year in Acapulco and it marked the first year he’s won multiple titles since 2016. By lifting the trophy Sunday at the Citi Open, Kyrgios makes his return to the Top 30 for the first time in 43 weeks, landing at No. 27.

Kyrgios, who has now constructed a six-match win streak – his longest since January 2018 when he won seven straight – showed a reflective side of himself during his news conference. Perhaps, winning will do that to him.

“I haven’t played many matches this last couple months. Especially just looking back on some of the places I’ve been the last six months,” said Kyrgios. “It’s crazy to think how much I’ve turned it around.

“And I’ve just been working really hard, on and off the court, to try and be better as a person and as a tennis player. And as I said, I wasn’t exaggerating. This has been one of the best weeks of my life, not just on the court but in general. I feel like I’ve made major strides.

“I’m just going to take it one day at a time and hopefully I can continue on this new path.”

Klaasen and Venus win third title together

Third-seeded Raaven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus from New Zealand are enjoying the summer of their lives. After lifting the trophy in Halle and reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon, both on grass, the formidable team that debuted back in 2011 during a Uzbekistan Futures event, improved their win-loss record to 65-36 Sunday with their 3-6, 6-2, 10-2 victory over unseeded Jean-Julien Rojer from France and Horia Tecau of Romania on a hard-court surface. Combined, Klaasen and Venus now own 25 doubles titles.

After splitting the first two sets to reach a deciding match tie-break, Klaasen and Venus immediately jumped out to a 3-0 lead and pushed ahead to 6-1 through a combination of service aces by Venus, a forehand winner by Klaasen and by taking advantage of both forced and unforced errors by Rojer and Tecau. A Venus ace gave his team seven match points and Klaasen’s perfect, backhanded cross-court winner on the next point lifted them to the Citi Open victory in one hour and 14 minutes.

While the first two sets were pretty evenly balanced, it during the tie-break that Klaasen and Venus took off and excelled.

“Yeah, I think Rave took off there and I was trying to hang on to his coattails through that tiebreaker,” said Venus, who pointed to a moment at 4-3 in the second set when the match turned in their favor. “I think Rave’s confidence just continued to go up each time he touched the ball.”

The Klaasen-Venus duo were solid, serving seven aces and winning 88 percent (30 of 34) of their first-serve points. They were broken just once. Of note, during the eighth game of the second set, Tecau was hit flush in the left tempo during a back-and-forth exchange of volleys. The match was temporarily stopped so that Tecau could receive medical treatment before play resumed.

Venus was asked by Tennis TourTalk if getting hit during the heat of battle happens often in doubles. He said, “I think it happens a lot more than maybe people realize. ..When we’re all at the net, you’re just reacting and sometimes you don’t have time to make adjustments and balls just come in fast.”

Klaasen, the shorter of the two, holds a No. 9 doubles ranking while the taller Venus is ranked No. 11. They’re strung together 12 wins in their past 13 matches and Sunday’s championship victory lifted them into second place in the ATP Doubles Race to London with 3100 points, looking forward to a return engagement at O2 Arena in London. The 500 points they picked up Sunday will definite give them a boost in the right direction.

What they’re saying

• World No. 10 Daniil Medvedev, seeded third this week at the Citi Open, on his goals for the result of the season: “My first goal, I always say this, is to win every match I ply not matter if it’s a first round or final, like today. Because to get to the final, you need to win every match you play before.

“So, my first goal is to win every match I play. That’s how you can get points, and that’s how you can go up the rankings. So, that’s the main goal for me. And, if with this goal then I can be either Top 10, but I am Top 10 already, so this goal is done.

“I mean, I would be happy if I will be in the Masters in the end of the year, but I will not think about it too much. I will take it match by match.”

• Citi Open doubles champions Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus, who have won titles this year on grass and hard court and been a finalist on clay on, were asked by Tennis TourTalk what their favorite surface is. Klaasen: “I think hard is probably our best. My favorite is grass. That might only be because it’s such a short season that you don’t get to play much, so that might be why it’s my favorite. But I think we both come from hard court backgrounds, so that’s probably where we’re the most comfortable.”

Sunday’s results

Men’s singles final
Nick Kyrgios d. No. 3 Daniil Medvedev, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4)

Women’s singles final
Jessica Pegula d. Camila Giorgi, 6-2, 6-2

Men’s doubles final
No. 3 Raven Klaasen/Michael Venus d. Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau, 3-6, 6-3, 10-2