Khachanov Wins Battle Of Big Servers, Knocks Kyrgios Out Of US Open

Karen Khachanov (photo: Simon Bruty/USTA)

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, September 7, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Karen Khachanov of Russia matched Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in a battle of big servers during their US Open quarterfinal match that began Tuesday night and finished early Wednesday morning on Arthur Ashe Stadium with the roof closed due to a steady rain that fell on New York all day long.

At the end of their three-hour, 39-minute battle, after coming within two points of victory in the fourth set, the 27th-seed Khachanov prevailed over No. 23 seed Kyrgios, 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-4, to reach his first career Grand Slam semifinal.

In a contest dominated by big serving from both players, the 6-foot-6-inch Khachanov withstood 31 aces – and a noisy atmosphere that was supportive of the mercurial Kyrgios – and pounded 30 aces of his own. He struck 63 winners to 31 unforced errors and outpointed Kyrgios 167-159. The 27-year-old Canberra native countered with 75 winners but also committed 58 unforced errors.

Throughout much of the first two sets, the points were fast and furious. Later, the rallies became more extended. However, Khachanov took advantage of his break-point opportunities and converted four of eight, including at the start of the fifth set. Kyrgios was able to only break his Russian opponent twice in nine tries.

The bottom line: The 31st-ranked Khachanov is through to Friday’s semifinals and will play World No. 7 Casper Ruud of Norway, who was an earlier winner Tuesday afternoon over 14th-ranked Matteo Berrettini of Italy in straight sets and is now just two wins away from capturing his first major title and being ranked No. 1.

“I did it! I did it!,” Khachanov said following his quarterfinal victory over Kyrgios. “I’m really proud of myself, I was focused from the beginning to the end.

“It was a crazy match but I came ready to fight and to play five sets.”

Indeed, Khachanov has survived back-to-back five-set matches, first against No. 12 seed Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain on Sunday, then Kyrgios. He began his New York fortnight by needing to go four sets each to beat Denis Kudla of the United States and Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro.

Looking back on his win over Kyrgios during his post-match press conference, Khachanov said: “From the beginning until the end, great performance – at least I will talk about myself, from my side. I stayed there. I waited for my chances. I created them as well. I’m super happy, super proud that I could finish the match, I could take it. Serving for the match [is] never easy. [I am] just super happy to do this step forward to make my first semifinal.”

Tuesday’s US Open results

Wednesday’s US Open order of play

By the numbers

• World No. 17 Caroline Garcia of France arrived at the US Open having won 17 of her past 18 matches and 29 in all since Wimbledon, most in the WTA during this period. Last month, she became the first champion in the history of the Western & Southern Open hard-court tournament to win the title after coming through qualifying. Now, she’s through to her first major singles semifinal at the US Open.

Nick Kyrgios finished his US Open with 116 aces and has a tour-leading 27 wins since the beginning of the grass season. He has climbed to No. 19 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, passing Alex de MInaur to become the highest-ranked Australian.

“Quotable …”

“I’m obviously devastated. But all credit to Karen. He’s a fighter. He’s a warrior. I thought he served really good today. Honestly, probably the best serve I played this tournament. The way he was hitting his spots under pressure. He just played the big points well.”

– No. 23 seed Nick Kyrgios of Australia, during his post-match press conference, giving credit to his opponent Karen Khachanov of Russia.

“I feel I didn’t play at the level I needed to come out with the win today. Overall, I’m super proud of myself on this tournament. But I’m hungry for more. So, maybe next year.”

– American Coco Gauff, the No. 12 seed, during her post-match press conference following her 6-3, 6-4 loss to No. 17 seed Caroline Garcia of France in the quarterfinal round Tuesday night.

“I’m just trying to focus on my game, what I like to do, how is the best way for me to play tennis. The path is very clear now.”

– World No. 17 Caroline Garcia of France, during her post-match press conference after defeating No. 12 seed Coco Gauff of the United States in Tuesday’s quarterfinals