US Open 2022 – Nick Kyrgios, the most fiery tennis player in the sport is making yet another eye-catching run

NEW YORK – Nick Kyrgios has promised he would put on a show. And against the defending champion Daniil Medvedev, the US Open was his stage. He said it took 27 years of perseverance and recalibration to put together this four-part takedown of the world number one.

Kyrgios has always had a love-hate relationship with tennis. Along with all the box office moments and matches where he swiped at an opponent, there were other occasions where he lost his composure or looked disinterested.

But eventually it clicked and after reaching the final at Wimbledon, Kyrgios could be the favorite to win it all at Flushing Meadows. Playing a perfect match in tennis is a Sisyphean task, but Kyrgios reaches the level where he’s unbeatable when he’s locked up.

“I’m just trying not to let people down,” Kyrgios said after beating Medvedev. “I was in that press conference room a while ago and I lost in the third round, it was the worst feeling because I just have so much expectation. Now I can finally show it. I feel like I’ve been working really hard. I’m just very motivated at the moment.

Everything came together against Medvedev. He told the crowd afterwards, “I’m just glad to finally be able to show my talent to New York. I haven’t had too many great trips here.”

They witnessed a two-hour, 53-minute match that featured the full Kyrgios repertoire: the killing serve, skillful backhand slices, the rocket forehand, dabs of irritation, and a moment many had never seen in a match before.

No wonder he’s probably the hottest ticket in town now that Serena is gone. You can’t take your eyes off him. It feels like the crowd is waiting for their next Instagrammable moment, whether it’s a shot from the sky or Kyrgios losing his cool.

During the game, he twice smashed his racquet face-down on the ground, slammed a loose ball into the back wall a few inches below the spectators, was cautioned for audible profanity, and argued with the chair umpire over the constantly running shot clock serving as he tried to wipe the sweat from his hands.

This behavior could turn a crowd against a player. But instead, when he waved his arms up toward the packed Arthur Ashe Stadium at the break point, the crowd responded with a crescendo of noise. Medvedev emulated him at times, but didn’t get quite as much response.

In an arena that at times throughout the tournament resembled a heavyweight boxing crowd — the players’ walk-ons, the chest’s reaction to incredible shots or valuable points, the celebrity attention, the playlist — Kyrgios is at home.

But it’s his home in Australia that he mentions a lot. Even before this slam, he spoke of the win-win situation he is in: if he manages to string victories together, then all is well; If he loses, he gets to go home. He has spoken of being away for four months and wanting to put in a good run here to make his team proud.

The question is why now? Why has Kyrgios suddenly gotten so good at 27 and built a previously elusive consistency? Before this summer, his biggest successes were in singles quarterfinals at Wimbledon 2014 and the Australian Open 2015. But in the last two months he lost to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final and beat the world No. 1 from the US Open.

“I felt like I was being very selfish when I was really struggling mentally,” Kyrgios said. “I felt like I felt bad, I don’t want to play. Then I looked at the people closest to me and how badly I had let them down, and I didn’t want to do that anymore.

“Then, I don’t know, I was just trying to just look at my career. I was like, I feel like I still have so much to give to the sport. That’s it. I was just training hard. I was just said i put my head down look let’s get in shape first better shape let’s see how it goes

“Obviously winning helps. The motivation was there. It’s easy to train. It’s obviously easier to wake up when things are going well.

“I was just tired of letting people down. I feel like I’m making people proud now. I feel like not so many negative things are being said about me. I almost wanted to turn the narrative around. That’s basically it. I just felt so depressed all the time that I felt sorry for myself. I just wanted to change that.”

After reaching the Wimbledon final, Kyrgios was represented by his lawyer in an Australian court. Kyrgios is facing a joint charge of assault in connection with an incident in January 2021 in Canberra involving his former girlfriend Chiara Passari. The case was adjourned to October 4.

He played doubles in Atlanta, won the men’s singles and doubles titles at the Citi Open, reached the quarterfinals in Canada and the round of 32 in Cincinnati. He maintained the same form we saw at Wimbledon – he had won the most games of any player on tour since the end of the French Open.

At Flushing Meadows, Kyrgios’ US Open campaign began with a personally uncomfortable but professionally dominant victory over one of his best friends and doubles partner, Thanasi Kokkinakis. In the second round against Benjamin Bonzi, he complained to the referee about the smell of marijuana on the court and was later fined $7,500 for unsportsmanlike conduct after cursing and spitting towards his box during the game. His third-round win was drama-free: a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 win over JJ Wolf. But his toughest test so far this year was against Medvedev.

After the win, Kyrgios said that if Medvedev had won the first set, he knew he would have lost the match. But Kyrgios won that 63-minute set in a mammoth tiebreak. Medvedev won the second, but it was in the third and fourth sets that Kyrgios later said he felt “so free”. The third set included the bizarre incident in game two after Medvedev failed to return a forehand from Kyrgios. The ball flew off Medvedev’s racquet and stayed on his side of the court, but before it hit the ground, Kyrgios darted around the net and hammered a volley home.

Had he let it go, the point would have gone to Kyrgios, but instead Medvedev awarded it with his action. Kyrgios later called it a “dark game” in his on-pitch interview. “I thought it was legal,” Kyrgios said. “It’s going to be all over the SportsCenter, so I’m going to do it [look] Like an idiot.”

But when he smashed down an ace at match point, it was Kyrgios who held off Arthur Ashe. “I didn’t over-celebrate,” he said. “It’s only the fourth round. I’ve reached the quarter-finals. It was an amazing experience, obviously beating the No. 1 player in the world at Arthur Ashe Stadium. But I don’t really like to celebrate too much afterwards because I know that if I’ve played him nine more times, he’s probably above me most of the time.”

Next up is big server Karen Khachanov in the quarterfinals. If he wins that, Kyrgios will take another step forward towards his first Grand Slam. He said after the Wimbledon final defeat that if he had won that game against Djokovic he wasn’t sure he would find the motivation to go again. But here in New York he loves the sport again and it all comes together.

“It’s the last biggest tournament of the year,” said Kyrgios. “We know we’re going home next week. But maybe three more games, then we’ll never have to play tennis again.”

https://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/34526916/us-open-2022-nick-kyrgios-most-fiery-tennis-player-sport-making-yet-another-eye-catching-run US Open 2022 – Nick Kyrgios, the most fiery tennis player in the sport is making yet another eye-catching run

Emma Bowman

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