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Three To See, US Open Day 9: Matteo Berrettini v. Casper Ruud; Coco Gauff v. Caroline Garcia; Nick Kyrgios v. Karen Khachanov
After taking down the ATP's top-ranked player, can Kyrgios come back down to earth for another "absolute battle" against Khachanov?
Published Sep 06, 2022
WATCH: Tennis Channel Live discusses Nick Kyrgios' big win over Medvedev in the fourth round of the US Open
Matteo Berrettini vs. Casper Ruud
Here we have two recent Grand Slam finalists who have been flying a little under the Kyrgios-Nadal-dominated radar so far. I don’t think Berrettini or Ruud has played a night match in Arthur Ashe Stadium yet, and they won’t play one on Tuesday either; they’re first up at noon. Each has fought through one five-setter and two four-setters, and each is just two wins away from a first US Open final.
Ruud leads their head-to-head 3-2, which might seem like a surprise until you learn that four of their five meetings have come on clay. Ruud has won three of those, including the most recent, in three sets, in the Gstaad final this summer. Berrettini won their only hard-court match in straight sets at the US Open in 2020.
And that may be the most salient data point. Berrettini, a semifinalist in New York in 2019, has been superior to Ruud at this event. His bruising game translates a little better to hard courts than Ruud’s, and his more excitable, crowd-revving personality translates a little better to New York. Berrettini hasn’t played his best at all times so far, but he has been money when it matters. Winner: Berrettini
Coco Gauff vs. Caroline Garcia
In this matchup, we can see how our sense of who is in the best form can subtly change over the course of a Slam.
Coming into the Open, Garcia was playing at a higher level than anyone in the women’s draw. She had won three titles on three surfaces in three months, including the WTA 1000 in Cincinnati. The Frenchwoman was attacking with the relentlessness that many of us had hoped to see from her for years, and there was little her opponents could do about it. Garcia has continued to do the same at the Open, winning all four of her matches in straight sets.
So why does it suddenly seem like she’s not the favorite to win this quarterfinal, at least to me? Because Gauff has improved before our eyes, from one match to the next, in New York. She also hasn’t dropped a set, and she dismantled 20th-seeded Madison Keys with her impenetrable mix of offense and defense.
So it will be interesting to see whether Garcia can break down the Gauff fortress with her forays forward, or whether Gauff can continue to give big hitters nowhere to hit. They’ve played twice, and Coco has won both times. Winner: Gauff
Nick Kyrgios vs. Karen Khachanov
“We’ve had some absolute battles,” Kyrgios says of his past matches with Khachanov.
Well, one absolute battle, and one absolute debacle for Kyrgios. The battle was a five-set thriller that Kyrgios won at the Australian Open, 10-8 in a fifth-set match tiebreaker in 2020. The debacle, which came the summer before in Cincinnati, was a three-set implosion that ended with Kyrgios spitting in the direction of chair umpire Fergus Murphy and nearly getting suspended by the ATP.
This night match will surely feature some heavyweight hitting from both men. And Khachanov had a nice win in his last match, over Pablo Carreño Busta. But there seems little reason to think, after watching Kyrgios overmatch top seed Daniil Medvedev for two full sets, that he won’t do the same in the end to his lower-ranked countryman. Winner: Kyrgios