Nick Kyrgios’ blockbuster clash against Daniil Medvedev featured one of the most bizarre moments of the US Open.
The 27-year-old eventually won the match in four sets. However, he cost himself a break point opportunity at 30-all on Medvedev’s serve at 1-0 in the third set. The top seed floated a volley high in the air, and the ball clearly was not going to make it to Kyrgios’ side of the court. Instead of letting it bounce and winning the point, the 23rd seed ran to the other side of the court and hit the ball out of the air before putting his index finger in the air to celebrate.
The chair umpire correctly awarded the point to Medvedev, who went on to hold the service game.
“I think I had probably the most boneheaded play of all time tonight. I thought it was legal to be honest. I genuinely thought it was legal,” Kyrgios said in an interview with ESPN. “I thought I was playing the concrete streets of my suburb in Canberra. That’s something I would do there and I realised that it wasn’t legal. You can see my face… I was so happy. I was like, ‘That’s the best shot ever’ and it wasn’t legal. But it was fun.”
It seemed that would be a critical moment in the match that could have tilted the action in Medvedev’s favour. Instead, the Australian earned a service break in his next return game and never looked back.
“I think that was the turning point, honestly,” Kyrgios said.
During Kyrgios’ press conference, he was in a reflective mood. The 27-year-old has been playing some of the best tennis of his career over the past few months and he explained that one of the biggest reasons for that is how motivated he is to succeed.
“I just feel like I’m playing for a lot more than myself. I’ve just got a lot of people, a lot of support, and on the flip side I got a lot of people doubting me and trying to bring me down all the time as well. I’ve got a lot of motivation in the back of my mind,” Kyrgios said. “I’ve been away from home now for four months. My whole team has. We don’t get to see our family like other tennis players do the majority of time. I’m trying to make it worthwhile, trying to make it a memorable ride for all of us. Hopefully we can get it done, go back home and really celebrate.”
There already has been plenty for Kyrgios to celebrate this year. He won the doubles title at the Australian Open alongside close friend and countryman Thanasi Kokkinakis, which gave him the belief that he could make deep runs at the majors.
Then at Wimbledon, Kyrgios advanced to his first Grand Slam singles final, in which he pushed Novak Djokovic in a tight four-setter. The Australian maintained his good form throughout the North American hard-court summer, lifting the trophy at the Citi Open and eliminating Medvedev in Montreal before arriving in New York.
“Obviously winning helps. I’ve been winning a lot this year. The motivation has been there. It’s easy to train. It’s easier to wake up obviously when things are going great,” Kyrgios said. “I was just really sick of letting people down. I don’t know, just feeling like that. I feel like I’m making people proud now.”
The pressure on Kyrgios is as high as ever given his current form and performance under the spotlight. But so far at Flushing Meadows, he has overcome every hurdle to set a quarter-final clash against Karen Khachanov.
“It’s a great win. But I come off the court and I’m just almost relieved that it’s over because there’s just so much pressure every time I go out on court, so much expectation, so much unpredictability of what I can do,” Kyrgios said. “I just sit there in the locker room after and I’m just super proud of the performance because there was really a time where I didn’t think I was capable of producing and doing this any more.”