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Nick Kyrgios’s U.S. Open Run Ends One Match After Beating the Top Seed

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For the third consecutive day, one in every of the top-seeded men or a heavy favorite exited the 2022 U.S. Open.

In a match that began Tuesday night and led to the small hours Wednesday morning, Nick Kyrgios lost to Karen Khachanov of Russia in five sets in a duel between two of the toughest hitters in the sport, but additionally two players whose minds have often gotten in the best way of the success that so many predicted for them once they were teenagers.

Khachanov won the three-hour, 39-minute scrap, 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-7, 6-4. Kyrgios looked to have the momentum after taking the fourth-set tiebreaker, but he lost his serve within the opening game of the fifth set and never recovered.

“Crazy match,” Khachanov, the No. 27 seed, said in his on-court interview. He’ll face Casper Ruud of Norway, the No. 5 seed, within the semifinals.

For Kyrgios, the talented but temperamental Australian, the loss got here two nights after he eliminated the highest seed and the defending champion, Daniil Medvedev, one other Russian. On Monday, Rafael Nadal, the 22-time Grand Slam singles champion, lost in fourth sets to Frances Tiafoe, a rising American.

Nadal’s loss was less of a surprise than Medvedev’s, especially because few would have been shocked if the 2 had met within the finals had they landed on opposite sides of the draw. The surprise was how efficiently the Twenty third-seeded Kyrgios had steam-rolled Medvedev, who’s well known because the world’s top hardcourt player, within the third and fourth sets.

The performance was amongst the perfect matches Kyrgios, 27, has ever played at a Grand Slam tournament, if not the perfect. In those final two sets, in game after game, Kyrgios all but hit Medvedev off the court, except when he was confusing and frustrating Medvedev together with his drop shots and touch volleys. There was little doubt when the match ended that if Kyrgios could proceed playing at that level, it was unlikely anyone in the sphere could be able to stopping him from winning his first Grand Slam singles title in a profession marked by wild swings of brilliance and blowups.

The one consistencies in Kyrgios’s game and the mind that rules it though are their unpredictability, and the way irresistible tennis fans find it.

Goran Ivanisevic, the 2001 Wimbledon champion who now coaches Novak Djokovic, has described Kyrgios as a “tennis genius.” But just when it seems that Kyrgios has every little thing locked in — his massive serve, his blistering forehand, his deceptively quick movement, his breathtaking touch, his flamable temper — something goes awry.

Against Khachanov, the shortcoming to seek out anything near the near-perfection he had reached against Medvedev doomed him. Kyrgios was just barely off, and against a far inferior opponent. Shots that normally burn the lines drifted beyond them. Shots that typically zip over the online on a wire slammed into the tape, and even the center of the online within the lesser moments. He struggled all night to crack the code of Khachanov’s serve, especially on his rare possibilities to interrupt it.

At one point, he got so frustrated together with his inability to get off a high quality return that he swatted on the balls as if he was attempting to kill a fly with a swatter. After losing two golden possibilities to interrupt Khachanov’s serve late within the third set, he smashed his racket on the bottom and later smacked a television camera together with his hand.

The tide appeared to show three games later, when Kyrgios stroked a series of easy rally balls into the center of the online, giving the crucial third set to Khachanov. Kyrgios went up a break within the fourth set, gave it back, then prevailed within the tiebreaker, but that transient stumble early within the fifth set cost him the match.

Khachanov, 26, was not perfect, but he was pretty much as good as he needed to be, serving hard, working enough points around to his smooth and powerful forehand, and attacking as soon as he could find a gap. He also kept his emotions in check, at the same time as the group rallied behind Kyrgios — Recent York has all the time loved a showman — and heckled the Russian. He waited for Kyrgios to grow frustrated enough to wish to get off the court and get home to Australia.

Kyrgios never got there, though he had ample opportunity. As an alternative he fought to the bitter end, whipping forehands and pounding serves, moaning as he chased down shots against a stubborn player who managed to come back up together with his own big serves when needed, including on the ultimate point, one last bomb down the center of the court. Moments later, Kyrgios smashed a racket on the side of the court.

Kyrgios’s immediate future is uncertain. He loathes the time away from his home and his family that the game requires. His mother has been ailing. A court hearing has also been scheduled in early October for Kyrgios to face a charge of assaulting his former girlfriend in Canberra last December. Kyrgios has not commented on the costs. He could face prison if convicted.

He has long had an ambivalent relationship with tennis. He played little through the early days of the pandemic, selecting to not travel the world to play in empty stadiums. Then, in January, he won the Australian Open doubles title together with his longtime friend Thanasi Kokkinakis.

The victory each lit a fireplace in Kyrgios and likewise taught him how much commitment and energy playing a Grand Slam to the finish over two weeks required. He skipped the clay court season because he hates playing on the surface, then took over Wimbledon, becoming the talk of the tournament together with his sublime play and his antics, which included fights with officials and taunting Stefanos Tsitsipas into submission. Within the finals he lost in 4 sets to Djokovic, who won his twenty first Grand Slam singles title.

Kyrgios said if he had won Wimbledon, he might need struggled to seek out a reason to maintain playing tennis. The game, and the expectations that had been placed on him when he burst onto the scene as a 19-year-old, have tortured him, and driven him to alcohol abuse.

This U.S. Open offered him the perfect opportunity of his profession to win a Grand Slam singles title. Djokovic’s refusal to receive a vaccination for Covid-19 prevented him from entering the country to participate, after which Nadal had been eliminated within the fourth round.

As Kyrgios took the court Tuesday night, nobody who had won a Grand Slam title was left within the draw, and he was playing a few of the perfect tennis of his life, until he wasn’t any longer.

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