Nick Kyrgios stunned defending champion Daniil Medvedev 7-6(11), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 at the US Open on Sunday evening with a brilliant performance to reach the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows.
The 23rd seed entered the match with a 3-1 ATP Head2Head lead against Medvedev and in the best form of his career, but taking out the top seed at a Grand Slam was an entirely new challenge. The Australian passed the test with flying colours, playing his aggressive game to triumph after two hours and 53 minutes.
“What a place to do it,” Kyrgios said. “Packed house in New York!”
Medvedev will lose his top spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on the Monday after the US Open. Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz or Casper Ruud will become World No. 1. Kyrgios advances to his first quarter-final in New York, where he will next play Karen Khachanov.
“I want to go all the way,” said Kyrgios, whose victory was his third against a World No. 1. “Hopefully it is possible.”
Kyrgios Versus The Big Guns
The match was less about Medvedev playing poorly — he made just 19 unforced errors — and more about Kyrgios shining under the spotlight. The crowd favourite fired 21 aces and cracked 53 total winners to seize the opportunity. He frequented the net to put pressure on Medvedev, winning 62 per cent (29/47) of those points.
Kyrgios emerged victorious despite a third-set gaffe that would have thrown many players for a loop. The 27-year-old cost himself a break point opportunity at 30-all when he ran around the net to hit on the full a Medvedev floating volley that clearly lacked the velocity to make it back into play. It was for pure comic relief, but the chair umpire correctly awarded the point to Medvedev, who would serve out the game.
Instead of letting the mistake get to him, Kyrgios remained calm and found his best tennis of the tournament to surge past the top seed.
well this was… odd pic.twitter.com/zl94yPmGwL
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 5, 2022
This year’s Wimbledon finalist and Citi Open champion overpowered Medvedev and never allowed him to get comfortable. The 2021 champion so often puzzles opponents with his devastating mix of big serving and relentless defending. But when Nick posed the ‘Kyrgios Question’ in front of a raucous crowd, Medvedev found few answers.
The match got off to a quick start with both men playing sensational tennis. Former World No. 1 Andy Roddick was among those who provided his thoughts on social media, tweeting, “This is awesome stuff. Super high level. Heavyweight fight.”
This is awesome stuff. Super high level. Heavyweight fight
— andyroddick (@andyroddick) September 4, 2022
The pair clashed just weeks ago in Montreal, where Kyrgios triumphed in three sets. He backed up that victory with a sensational performance in front of a packed crowd. After hitting his 21st ace, Kyrgios barely celebrated, knowing there is still work to be done in New York.
“I’m just glad that I am finally able to show New York my talent,” Kyrgios said. “I haven’t played great tennis [in the past] to be honest… it’s taken me 27 years.”
After Kyrgios brought out his showmanship early and tried to rally the fans Medvedev did the same, often encouraging fans inside Arthur Ashe Stadium to get louder with a wave. Early on, Medvedev showed a different returning strategy than he did in Canada, standing far closer to the baseline. Later in the first set, he would mix it up to give his big-serving opponent different looks.
The defending champion overcame an early break deficit to push the set to a tie-break, in which he rallied from 3/5 down to earn three set points. On the third of those set points, at 8/7, Kyrgios hit a tricky backhand volley that just clipped the singles line.
Kyrgios put on the pressure from there, using his drop shot to great effect in the latter stages of the tie-break. On the set point he converted, the Australian faked a drop shot, leading to a missed passing shot from Medvedev.
Kyrgios was unable to sustain his momentum, though, playing a poor opening service game in the second set. Medvedev took full advantage, seizing an immediate break and surging ahead 5-1. The set got complicated as the Australian rediscovered his focus, but Kyrgios missed a neutral backhand long to allow his opponent to level the clash.
Early in the third set, Kyrgios made what could have been a critical mistake. Leading 1-0 and at 30/30 on Medvedev’s serve, the 23rd seed rushed around the net and swatted away a ball that was not going to land anywhere close to the net. By rule, if a ball does not land on your side of the net and spin back to your opponent’s side of the court, you are not allowed to touch the ball on that side.
Kyrgios put a finger up in celebration, thinking he had just earned a spot on the highlight reel. Instead, the point went to Medvedev, who escaped the game. Although that seemed it would be a critical juncture, the action proved otherwise.
The 23rd seed broke from 40/0 down in Medvedev’s next service game and served through the rest of the set without difficulty. From the moment of his gaffe, Kyrgios dominated with his big serve and never allowed Medvedev to get comfortable.
The Australian earned an early break again in the fourth set and was determined to hang onto it. Kyrgios broke serve five times in his victory and saved five of the eight break points he faced.
Kyrgios on Monday will partner Thanasi Kokkinakis — whom he defeated in the first round in singles — in an attempt to reach the doubles quarter-finals. Kokkinakis was in Kyrgios’ box on Sunday evening supporting his countryman.
Did You Know?
Kyrgios is up seven places to No. 18 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and has replaced Alex de Minaur as Australia’s highest-ranked player. He has not been ranked that high since August 2018. The Australian was World No. 137 six months ago on 22 February.