The disappointment of US Open defeat to Karen Khachanov shone through for Nick Kyrgios in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Despite adding a maiden quarter-final appearance in New York to his impressive list of achievements in recent months, the Australian’s desire to go deeper in the draw made it hard for him to take positives from his five-set loss.
“I feel like I’ve let so many people down,” said Kyrgios, who was seeking to back up his run to his maiden major final at Wimbledon in July. “It’s just devastating. Like, it’s heartbreaking. Not just for me, but for everyone that I know that wants me to win.”
Kyrgios fired 31 aces and battled for three hours, 39 minutes against Khachanov inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, but he felt a slow start had cost him dear as the 27th seed outlasted the Australian to reach his maiden Grand Slam semi-final.
“[I] just came out flat,” said Kyrgios. “Physically didn’t feel great. Then I ended up feeling great towards the end of the match.
“I’m obviously devastated. But all credit to Karen. He’s a fighter. He’s a warrior. I thought he served really good today. Honestly probably the best server I played this tournament, to be honest, the way he was hitting his spots under pressure.”
Kyrgios impressed in the opening week in New York, moving past close friend Thanasi Kokkinakis, Benjamin Bonzi and J.J. Wolf before delivering a stunning fourth-round performance to end Daniil Medvedev’s title defence. The 23rd seed came within a set of reaching his maiden semi-final at Flushing Meadows but admitted Khachanov was too good in the key moments.
“He just played the big points well,” said Kyrgios. “[There] really wasn’t anything in it. I’m just devastated obviously. Just feel like it was either winning it all or nothing at all, to be honest. I feel like I’ve just failed at this event right now. That’s what it feels like.”
Having been outside the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings as recently as March, Kyrgios’ run this fortnight has lifted him to No. 19 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, making him the No. 1 Australian. The physical commitment shown by the 27-year-old as he has racked up 26 wins since the start of the grass season in June has been high and he played down fears surrounding his knee after aggravating it during Tuesday night’s match.
“Just [my] knee [is] sore,” said Kyrgios. “Obviously I’ve been playing a lot of tennis the last couple months. Just came out… I just split-stepped and just tweaked it a little bit. Ended up feeling fine. I got some Deep Heat on it. Everyone is carrying a bit of a niggle right now. Nothing major.”
With plans to now return home to Australia for a break from tournament play, Kyrgios can reflect on a highly successful few months on Tour during which he lifted his seventh tour-level singles trophy at the Citi Open ATP 500 event in Washington. He also lifted the doubles title in the U.S. capital alongside Kokkinakis, and the Australian Open-winning pair is still in with a strong chance of qualifying for November’s Nitto ATP Finals. Kokkinakis and Kyrgios currently sit sixth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings.