For those fans looking to the future, the match of the day was the one featuring Nick Kyrgios and Andrey Rublev which was played under lights late on Arthur Ashe with the winner rewarded with a place in the last 16 of the US Open.
In the end, today it was my day and I’m happy Andrey Rublev
The charismatic albeit controversial Kyrgios, aged 24, who could well be suspended by the ATP following a serious meltdown earlier in the week, has already shown he has the talent to be languishing at the top of the rankings were he able to remain focused on the job in hand.
In contrast, Rublev, aged 21, might not be as charismatic, but is as equally talented, as well as being a hard worker who can retain his concentration. Unfortunately for him, he has suffered a slew of injuries which has slowed down his progress over the past two seasons.
But he is back and has made serious progress this summer defeating Roger Federer, for instance, to reach the last eight at Cincinnati just before Flushing Meadows.
Unseeded, Rublev announced his return to Flushing where he made the quarterfinals two years ago, by dispatching the eighth seeded title contender, Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening round.
Its not surprising therefore, to find him moving through the field into the second week by eliminating his Australian rival 7-6(5) 7-6(5) 6-3 in what was a tight match.
“He’s such a talented guy. We know how he can play great. His serve is the best for sure on tour,” Rublev said on-court afterwards. “I was trying to focus on me, to serve also well. Then I said, if I lose tiebreaks, I lose tiebreaks. If I win, perfect. In the end, today it was my day and I’m happy.”
You can never be sure how Kyrgios will ‘perform’ in a match. At all times he is like a powder keg ready to go off and there were a few brushes with the umpire but fortunately, the fuse was never lit despite him calling a line-judge a ‘whistle-blower’ for reporting some foul language he used, and his continual mutterings that he couldn’t see, the lights were too bright, etc.
He also declared “I don’t even want to be here, bro. I just want to go home” and “Call Of Duty [the video game] has ruined me”.
Throughout Rublev kept his head down ignoring the Aussie’s mutterings as the two fought for supremacy.
Kyrgios hit 30 aces but eventually wilted first when he squandered a 4-0 lead in the second set tiebreaker allowing the Russian to gain a psychological advantage with a two sets lead.
Rublev, who fired 12 aces of his own while holding all of his service games, avenged his 2018 defeat in St. Petersburg—the pair’s only previous encounter.
Rublev goes on to face the 24th seed Matteo Berrettini, a 23-year-old from Italy who defeated Alexei Popyrin, 6-4 6-4 6-7(3) 7-6(2).
“Nowhere near my best tennis, but it is what it is,” said Kyrgios who is still in the men’s doubles event with Marius Copil, but the future of his 2019 season remains to be seen.
Earlier in the week, he declared the ATP as being “pretty corrupt” on Twitter after receiving a record $113,000 fine for his on-court behaviour following his Cincinnati defeat by Karen Khachanov which he later deleted with a clarifying statement.
The ATP is still investigating the remark as a major player violation, which could carry a possible suspension which would give him the opportunity to head for home following, as he admits, 5 and half months on the road.
“Would I welcome it? I don’t know if I look at it like that,” Kyrgios said. “I have no say in it. I guess it’s out of my control.”
Meanwhile the fifth seed Daniil Medvedev was handed a $9 000 by the US Open officials following his unsportsmanlike remarks and the obscene gesture he committed during his Friday victory over Feliciano Lopez to reach the fourth round.
He was issued a code violation early in the match for tossing a towel.
As he later walked to his chair, Medvedev lifted his middle finger to the side of his head away from the view of the chair umpire but not from stadium cameras, which showed the image on the stadium video screen.
While he was not issued a violation, the umpire only having seen the image on replay, Medvedev drew boos from the crowd the remainder of the night.
Medvedev was fined $5 000 for unsportsmanlike conduct and $4 000 for his obscene gesture.
“It was tough. I was in the heat of the moment and started losing the momentum. I don’t really remember but I paid for it the whole match after,” Medvedev said later.
It marked the third consecutive match with a fine for Medvedev, who was docked $7,500 from his first match and $2,500 from his second.
Three-time champion Rafael Nadal cruised into the last 16 with a comfortable 6-3 6-4 6-2 win over 170th-ranked South Korean qualifier Chung Hyeon.
Second seed Nadal returned from three days of rest after a second-round walkover to move through to a meeting with 2014 title-winner Marin Cilic who in turn ended John Isner’s hopes of a home champion 7-5 3-6 7-6(6) 6-4.
Cilic, the 22nd seed and 2017 Wimbledon finalist commented ahead of his meeting with the Spaniard whom he has only beaten twice in eight attempts: “I’ve played quite a few times with Rafa. When you play these top guys you have to come up with your great tennis,”
With defending champion Novak Djokovic and 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in the opposite side of the draw, Nadal has – on paper at least – a more favourable route to a potential fifth US Open final.
Any concerns over the Spaniard’s fitness after he withdrew from this month’s Cincinnati Masters because of fatigue have been dispelled here with two ruthless displays in his two matches.
The 18-time Grand Slam champion did not face a single break point against Chung, who was a top-20 player and Australian Open semi-finalist last year but hs only recently returned to the tour after injury lay-offs and had to come through qualifying.
He sealed the first set with an ace, the second when he forced the South Korean to hit long and then took victory on his first match point with a rasping forehand winner.
Last year Nadal reached the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows but was forced retire at the end of the second set against Juan Martin del Potro because of a knee injury.
“I’m happy to be in the fourth round for one more time. It was a good match,” said Nadal. “I’m trying to play a little bit more aggressive and a little bit less than before.”
“It’s true last year I had some tough matches. You never know what’s better or worse,” he said of his serene progress this week.
Gael Monfils is taking his dazzling shot-making into the fourth round after outlasting Denis Shapovalov 6-7(5) 7-6(4) 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3.
Monfils, the 13th seed, matched the 33rd-ranked Canadian shot for shot in a contest that was all about big shots, high risks and high rewards. Shapovalov, for example, blasted 75 winners but also made 64 unforced errors. Monfils squandered a match point in the fourth-set tiebreaker but held on with a crucial service break in the deciding set to win it.
In the post-match news conference, even Shapovalov said he couldn’t help but be impressed with Monfils’ shots, saying he came up with the tennis equivalent of a “lot of flashy dunks.”
Monfils moves on to play Pablo Andujar in the round of 16, the Spaniard defeated Alexander Bublink 6-4 6-3 6-2.
Sixth seed Zverev, coming off back-to-back five-set matches, made it to the second week in New York for the first time after fighting past Aljaz Bedene 6-7(4) 7-6,(4) 6-3 7-6(3) in three hours and 36 minutes.