After some extensive travelling, a home-sick Nick Kyrgios can finally return home following his surprising five set US Open quarter-final loss to Karen Khachanov in the evening session on Arthur Ashe.
I did it! I did it!, It was a crazy match, but I came ready to fight and to play five sets Karen Khachanov
The controversial Aussie, who faces allegation charges of abuse by an ex-girl-friend and another of character assassination by a Wimbledon spectator, seemed set to emulate his run to the Wimbledon final at this year’s Flushing Meadows, only to crash out 7-5 4-6 7-5 6-7(3) 6-4 after three-hours and 39-minutes to the big-hitting player from Moscow.
Having dispatched the reigning champion and world No.1 in the previous round, Kyrgios became a hot favourite for this year’s title but on this occasion, his free-flowing aggressive tennis wasn’t sufficient to overcome Khachanov’s power.
In a contest which saw the momentum swing back and forth, Kyrgios delivered a loose service game in the fifth set, which proved decisive and while the Aussie had two chances to level, Khachanov shrugged them off and held his advantage to get over the finish line and reach his first semi-final at grand slam level.
“I did it! I did it!,” a delighted Khachanov said in his post-match interview. “It was a crazy match, but I came ready to fight and to play five sets.
“I was expecting it would be like this. I was ready to run, to fight, to play five sets. We played for almost four hours That’s the only way to beat Nick, I think.
“I had some opportunities in the fourth set. He played an amazing tie-break. What can I do? I had to stay focused and try to win the next set.
“I’m really proud of myself. I was really focused from the beginning to the end, and I got the win.”
Certainly disappointment for the 27-year-old Kyrgios who this summer, since the start of the grass court season, has finally delivered the results his undeniable talent is capable of, arriving in New York with 21 wins, a run which included a visit to the Wimbledon final, and then adding four wins at Flushing where he just failed, by one match, to equal Lleyton Hewitt’s run to the last four in 2005, who was the last Australian to reach the US Open semis.
Khachanov will now face Casper Ruud for a place in the final, the Norwegian fifth seed having earlier in the day, removed the 13th seeded Matteo Berrettini of Italy in what turned out to be a one-sided affair.
Ruud was quick off the mark and rolled past the burly Italian 6-0 6-4 7-6(4) to reach his second career Grand Slam semi-final – his first at Flushing – with some stunning tennis off the baseline which had Berrettini completely flummoxed for the best part of the two-hour 35-minute quarter final.
The Italian looked to have found an answer to Ruud’s onslaught in the third set when he established a 5-2 lead but couldn’t convert his opportunities and was broken and forced into a tie-break where the fifth seed completed his surprising straight sets win under the roof of Ashe Stadium – his fourth form six meetings with the Italian.
“That was a better start than I think I ever had before in a match,” Ruud admitted. “Everything was going my way, I was hitting all the spots I needed to plus Matteo maybe didn’t serve as well as he usually does. I was able to take care of the chances that I got.
“I got a little bit nervous towards the end of the second set, because things were almost going too well. It’s good, but sometimes you can get over-excited and start to think you can walk on water… So I had to calm down a little bit, and luckily was able to serve out the second set, but the third set was very tough.”
With the fourth-round demise of Daniil Medvedev, the top spot on the world rankings is very much at stake and while Rafa Nadal is also out, he and compatriot Carlos Alcaraz – as well as Casper Ruud – could end the week sitting at the top of the rankings.
Ruud is now one win from becoming No.1, unless Alcaraz makes the final!
If neither do, Nadal will regain the spot at the top!
“I don’t want to think too much about it, honestly,” the young Norwegian admitted when the possibility was raised. “It’s something that of course all young players dream about, so if I’m in a position to do it, let’s see if I can accomplish it… Of course, it’s a little bit of extra motivation to dig in, and even if you’re down on the score, to keep fighting. You never know what’s going to happen and if I’m very, very lucky I can leave New York as World No.1. So I’m trying to go for it of course.”