Karen Khachanov stood on court, arms raised, basking in a rowdy crowd’s cheers after reaching his first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open. Not far away, Nick Kyrgios took out some of his frustration at the so-close-yet-so-far result on a pair of rackets.
First, shortly after the last point of his 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-4 loss to Khachanov, Kyrgios cracked his piece of equipment against the ground — once, twice, three, four times. Then, for good measure, Kyrgios grabbed yet another racket out of his bag, reared back and hit that one on the sideline, too.
Kyrgios could not quite follow up his victory over defending champion Daniil Medvedev at Flushing Meadows, bowing out in a high-quality, topsy-turvy quarterfinal that began Tuesday night and concluded more than 3 1/2 hours later at about 1 a.m. Wednesday in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“It’s just devastating. Like, it’s heartbreaking,” said Kyrgios, a 27-year-old from Australia who was the runner-up at Wimbledon in July. “Pretty much every other tournament during the year is a waste of time, really. You should just run up and show up at a Grand Slam. That’s what you’re remembered by.”
Asked about Kyrgios’ display of disappointment, Khachanov said he saw “rackets were flying,” and added: “I feel the pain for him.”
A meltdown from Nick Kyrgios after losing in the US Open quarterfinal! pic.twitter.com/hUTaihlTBF
— Third and Five Podcast (@thirdandfivepod) September 7, 2022
Early in the match, two spectators were kicked out after one gave the other a haircut in the stands. By the end, the late-staying spectators were pulling for Kyrgios loudly. At one point in the fourth set, chair umpire James Keothavong pleaded: “Once again, ladies and gentlemen: Respect both the players.”
“I was prepared. I was expecting that the crowd would be more for him, that he was the favorite in their eyes,” said the No. 27-seeded Khachanov had been 0-2 in major quarterfinals before this one against No. 23 Kyrgios.
Khachanov will face No. 5 Casper Ruud on Friday for a berth in the championship match.
“I’m really proud of myself,” Khachanov said. “I was really focused from the beginning to the end.”
Both he and Kyrgios are equipped with booming serves, and they combined for 61 aces (31 by Kyrgios). They combined for 138 total winners (75 by Kyrgios).
Two stats that were real difference-makers: Kyrgios made 58 unforced errors, Khachanov 31. And Khachanov saved 7 of 9 break points he faced.
The breakthrough at Wimbledon, and two recent victories over No. 1 Medvedev — including in the fourth round, ending his title defense — made Kyrgios a popular pick to claim his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows.
Khachanov was not allowed to play at Wimbledon this year after the All England Club banned all players from his country, Russia, and Belarus because of the invasion of Ukraine.
Against Kyrgios, he picked up key breaks of serve in the last game of the first and third sets. After the opener, Kyrgios complained of a sore knee and was visited by a trainer.
He did not appear to show any ill effects once play resumed, and broke early in the second.
Kyrgios had a chance to break again at 4-all in the third, but couldn’t convert, flubbing a forehand, then spiked his racket. Two games later, he put a backhand into the net to drop that set, then sat in his changeover chair, dumped his racket and threw a drink, drawing a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct from Keothavong.
Khachanov came within two points of victory while ahead 6-5 as Kyrgios served in the fourth set. Kyrgios held on there and dominated the ensuing tiebreaker to force a fifth.
Then Khachanov broke to begin the last set, soon was up 3-1 and was on his way.
“The deeper you go, the expectations rise up,” he said. “I did a step forward.”
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