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In drama-filled D.C. semifinal, Kyrgios edges Tsitsipas; Medvedev next
At one point in the match, the 24-year-old Aussie delivered new shoes to the 20-year-old Greek during a changeover.
Published Aug 04, 2019
Nick Kyrgios rebounded from a mid-match setback and fought off a match point to outlast Stefanos Tsitsipas in an electric semifinal at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. on Saturday night, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7).
Kyrgios could do no wrong in the first set—he lost just three points on his serve and converted the only break point of the set, ripping a massive forehand winner to break Tsitsipas en route to a 3-1 lead.
The Australian continued his strong start by breaking again in the first game of the second set and holding for a 6-4, 2-0 lead, and at the 40-minute mark he seemed headed for a straight-set win.
But Tsitsipas wasn’t done, benefiting from some untimely Kyrgios unforced errors, steadying his own game and even battling a shoelace malfunction—which Kyrgios kindly helped him out with.
Tsitsipas would win six of the next seven games from that 6-4, 2-0 deficit to take the match to a third set, where both players brought out their best—there were only two break points the entire third set, with Kyrgios serving at 2-all, 15-40, and he swatted them both away with powerful, pinpoint serving.
There was no shortage of drama in the third set tie-break, either. Kyrgios stormed out to a 5-1 lead, but Tsitsipas reeled off the next five points in a row to get to 6-5 and match point—the Australian saved it with a big serve and eventually closed out the match on his second match point, ripping a big serve and putting away a crosscourt forehand to complete the two-hour, seven-minute victory.
“Until I got up a set and a break it was pretty clinical tennis,” Kyrgios said afterwards. “I was playing really well, but a couple of things kind of threw me off a little bit and I obviously went a bit nuts.
“I guess I just tried to compose myself and get a couple of early holds in the third set, and that’s what I did. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Once he found his stride we were going neck for neck to the tie-break, and at 5-1 up I thought I had it wrapped up. I somehow found myself match point down and somehow pulled it out. It could have gone either way, though. There was nothing between us.”
While only one player emerged with the victory, both players finished the match with far more winners than unforced errors. Kyrgios had a +18 differential on the day with 43 winners to 25 unforced errors, while Tsitsipas was an even more impressive +28, hitting 39 winners to just 11 unforced errors.
The two men hit a combined 38 aces, too—Kyrgios had 21, Tsitsipas 17.
Kyrgios is aiming to win his second title of the season. (Getty Images)
At the end of the day, Kyrgios improved to 4-1 this year against Top 10 players, having beaten Rafael Nadal, John Isner and Alexander Zverev in Acapulco. His one loss came to Nadal at Wimbledon. The Aussie is now a win away from the equal-biggest title of his career, having previously won ATP 500-level titles at Tokyo in 2016 and Acapulco earlier this year. His other three career titles are all 250s.
He’s also guaranteed to jump up the rankings on Monday. A former No. 13, he’ll rise from No. 52 back into the Top 35 just by reaching the final, and he’ll return to the Top 30 if he wins the title. Despite the loss, by virtue of his run to the semifinals, Tsitsipas will make his Top 5 debut in Monday's rankings—he’s already the only Greek player ever to reach the Top 10.
In Sunday's final, Kyrgios will face off against third seed Daniil Medvedev, who handily dismissed lucky loser Peter Gojowcyzk, 6-2, 6-2. Medvedev converted all five of his break points to stroll into the championship match after 56 minutes of work.
The Russian, currently ranked No. 10, will rise to a career-best No. 8 should he defeat Kyrgios. All four of Medvedev's previous ATP trophies came on hard courts, including a title run earlier this year in Sofia (indoors). The 23-year-old owns a 34-14 record this season and is seeking his second ATP 500 crown. Kyrgios won their first clash in May at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome.