Kyrgios Loves US Open And New York Loves Him Back

Nick Kyrgios (photo: Simon Bruty/USTA)

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, September 5, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

What better place than New York to make a big splash. That’s exactly what mercurial Aussie Nick Kyrgios did in front of an electric, sold-out crowd of nearly 24,000 inside Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open Sunday night.

The No. 23 seed Kyrgios, full of talent and energy, stunned the defending US Open champion and top seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia, 7-6 (11), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, in two hours and 53 minutes to reach the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows for the first time.

“What a place to do it,” Kyrgios said during his on-court interview with ESPN‘s Patrick McEnroe. “Packed house in New York!”

It was Medvedev’s earliest loss at the US Open since 2018 – and it also means Medvedev will vacate the No. 1 ranking after the US Open. Either Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz or Casper Ruud will replace him atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Meanwhile, the victory marked Kyrgios’ third career win over a No. 1-ranked player. He’s now 15-11 lifetime against Top-5 opponents, and it extended the high-level of play that the 27-year-old Kyrgios has shown since reaching his first major final at Wimbledon in July, then winning the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. in early August.

Against Medvedev, Kyrgios reveled in the spotlight on the biggest stage in tennis. He fired 21 aces, struck 53 winners to 38 unforced errors, converted five of seven break points, saved five of eight break points he faced, and outpointed Medvedev 128-119. Against just about any other opponent, Medvedev’s numbers – 22 aces and 49 winners to just 19 unforced errors – might have been good enough to win. However, Kyrgios seized opportunity after opportunity and ran with them.

“I just thought I played the right way,” Kyrgios said. “I returned unbelievable today. Just thought the third and fourth sets were just so free.

“I was having a lot of fun, embracing every moment out on Ashe today. Really proud of that.

“I want to go all the way,” Kyrgios added. “Hopefully it is possible.”

On Tuesday, the World No. 25 Kyrgios will face No. 27 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia, who advanced earlier Sunday with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 upset of No. 12 seed and two-time US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain, for a berth in Friday’s semifinals.

In the meantime, on Monday, Kyrgios will team with fellow Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis, whom he beat in the opening round last week and who was in Kyrgios’ box Sunday evening, with an eye toward making the doubles quarterfinals. The No. 8 seeds, who won the Australian Open doubles title earlier this season, face No. 11 seeds Harri Heliovaara of Finland and Lloyd Glasspool of Great Britain.

Tomljanovic, Jabeur set quarterfinal showdown

Ajla Tomljanovic, the 29-year-old Australian who ended 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams‘s final run at a major with a three-set victory Friday, won again to reach the quarterfinals in New York for the first time in nine appearances.

The 46th-ranked Tomljanovic beat No. 35 Liudmila Samsonova of Russia, 7-6 (8), 6-1, at Louis Armstrong Stadium in a matchup of unseeded players that took place at the same time as the Kyrgios-Medvedev slugfest next door in Arthur Ashe Stadium. She erased a 2-5 deficit and saved eight set points in the 82-minute opening set against her Russian opponent. The loss ended a 13-match winning streak for Samsonova, who earlier this month won back-to-back hard-court titles at Washington, D.C. and Cleveland.

The Croatian-born Tomljanovic, who converted four of five break-point opportunities against Samsonova and outpointed her 87-70, is now through to her third Grand Slam quarterfinal after advancing that far at Wimbledon the past two years.

“Just feels really good to back up a win that I think got a lot of attention,” Tomljanovic said in press afterward. “It’s been a really big 48 hours. I didn’t really feel like myself today the whole day.

“I just felt a little bit drained. After that slow start, I just didn’t want to go out like that. Picked myself up, fought back really hard, played some quality tennis after that.”

Next, Tomljanovic will face No. 5 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, who also extended her career-best run at the US Open by beating Russia’s No. 18 seed Veronika Kudermetova, 7-6 (1), 6-4, in an hour and 33 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Jabeur leads the head-to-head against Tomljanovic 2-0, which includes a win on clay at Rome earlier this season.

Jabeur, who was runner-up at Wimbledon in July and is now into her fourth major quarterfinal, came back from a 2-5 first-set deficit to beat the World No. 18 Kudermetova. Before Sunday, she was winless in three previous meetings. However, unlike before, Jabeur kept her focus and composure against the steely Russian and pulled herself back into the match by relying on a variety of angled shots. She finished with 11 aces and 32 winners, and outpointed Kudermetova 74-62.

By advancing, Jabeur is now the third African woman to reach the US Open quarterfinals in the Open Era (since 1968) – and the first from Tunisia. She joins South Africans Maryna Godwin (1968) and Amanda Coetzee (1994, 1996, 1998).

A 38-year first for Australia

Not since Wendy Turnbull and Pat Cash in 1984 have two Aussies reached the women’s and men’s US Open quarterfinals in the same year.

Accolades continue for Serena

Following what was likely Serena Williams‘s final major appearance as a pro tennis player at the US Open Friday night, the tributes began pouring in from her peers in the tennis world as well from other professional athletes – even dignitaries outside of sports, including President Joe Biden of the United States.

Sunday’s US Open results

Monday’s US Open order of play

By the numbers

At age 24, Frances Tiafoe bids to become the youngest American man to reach the US Open quarterfinals since Andy Roddick, 24, in 2006 when he faces four-time champion Rafael Nadal inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday.

Tiafoe has already become the first American man to reach the US Open fourth round in three straight years since Mardy Fish from 2010 to 2012 and the youngest to do so since Roddick won a title and advanced to three quarterfinals from 2001 to 2004.

“Quotable …”

“Yeah, it was a high-level match. Played Novak [Djokovic], Rafa [Nadal]. They all play amazing. Nick today played kind of their level, in my opinion. He has a little bit different game because he’s not like a grinder in a way. At the same time, he can really rally.”

– Defending champion and top seed Daniil Medvedev, during his post-match press conference, following his 7-6 (11), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 loss to No. 23 seed Nick Kyrgios Sunday night.