Kyrgios, Medvedev Set US Open Fourth-Round Showdown

Nick Kyrgios (photo: US Open video)

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, September 3, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

On the tennis court, Nick Kyrgios can personify both a showman and a businessman all rolled into one. Friday evening on Louis Armstrong Stadium at the US Open, while much of the buzz around the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center centered about Serena Williams next door on Arthur Ashe Stadium, the 23rd-seeded Australian saved all seven break points he faced against American wild card J.J. Wolf. That was all business and a focused effort, but Kyrgios also made time to share a flair for the dramatic, too.

After an hour and 54 minutes, Kyrgios garnered a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 win over the 87th-ranked Wolf that advanced him to face defending US Open champion Daniil Medvedev of Russia in what no doubt will be a blockbuster attraction on Sunday.

The World No. 1 andtop-seeded Medvedev defeated 174th-ranked qualifier Wu Yibing of China, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, in an hour and 55 minutes, finishing early Saturday morning on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Medvedev has not dropped any sets through the first three rounds.

“It was a very tough match for me,” the 25th-ranked Kyrgios said during his on-court interview after his third-round win against Wolf, while Medvedev was engaged in the opening set of his match. “I knew J.J. is home crowd favorite. I knew I had to be on my guns today and serve well. I’m just really happy to move forward.”

Kyrgios struck 21 aces in improving his 2022 win-loss record to 34-9 – 13-2 since reaching the Wimbledon final. The Canberra native can return to the Top 20 with a win over Medvedev Sunday.

“I’m really excited to play Medvedev,” Kyrgios said.

Three weeks ago, Kyrgios upset Medvedev in Montreal, 6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-2,  at the ATP Masters 1000 National Bank Open for his third victory in four tries against the Russian. Earlier this year, Medvedev prevailed in the second round of the Australian Open in four sets.

“At the US Open, this is the furthest I’ve ever gone,” Kyrgios said, “so it’s special year for me already. Hopefully, I can keep it going.”

Meanwhile, Medvedev will be putting his No. 1 ranking on the line when he walks out on Arthur Ashe Stadium Sunday to face Kyrgios. His third-round match against Wu started close to 11 p.m. following Williams’ three-hour-plus final match against Ajla Tomljanovic, which the Croatian-born Australian won 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-1.

Medvedev was asked to describe what it was like to watch Williams while waiting in the wings of Arthur Ashe Stadium to take court for his own match. “It was a crazy match, close to three hours,” he said. “It was definitely a pity she lost, but if that’s the last match of her career it was an amazing match and she was close to winning. But Ajla played a great level and congratsto her.”

Against Wu, Medvedev hit 12 aces, won 71 percent of his first-serve points, converted six of 12 break. Points and outpointed his opponent 103-77.

Looking ahead to facing Kyrgios, Medvedev knows that he needs to win to maintain his No. 1 ranking. “Tonight, I feel like I played at a quite high level and I was serving a little better than him, which was the key. There were a lot of tight games,” he said. “I felt the level of the match was high.”

Williams exits like a champion

Forty-year-old Serena Williams, who won her first US Open title at age 17 in 1999 – the beginning of a modern record 23 Grand Slam titles – made one last twirl and wave before exiting Arthur Ashe Stadium Friday night. It came after she gave it all she had before losing to Ajla Tomljanovic, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-1, in what likely is not only her last major championship match but also last match as a professional. Her career spanned 27 years.

“I tried,” Williams said afterward, summing up her feelings in two words. Her final game in the final set covered 22 points spread over 12 minutes. She saved five match points and had three break points of her own. The final shot clipped the white net tape and dropped to the court.

“I mean, there’s so many things to be remembered by,” Williams added during his post-match press conference. “Like the fight. I’m such a fighter. I don’t know. I feel like I really brought something – and bring something – to tennis. The different looks, the fist pumps, the just crazy intensity. Obviously, the passion I think is a really good word.”

Friday’s US Open results

Saturday’s US Open order of play

By the numbers

Daniil Medvedev is attempting to become the first player to win back-to-back US Open men’s singles titles since Roger Federer won five straight from 2004-08.

Wu Yibing is the first Chinese man in the history of the tournament (since 1881) to reach the third round. He’s reached a career-high ranking of No. 129 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

“Quotable …”

“We’ve played great matches. I think all have been quite tight on the scoreboard. It’s 3-1 to him but I will try to do better this time and it will be a great match for people to watch.”

– World No. 1 and top seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia, looking ahead to his fourth-round match against No. 23 seed Nick Kyrgios of Australia.