Kyrgios exits in Australian Open showstopper
Nick Kyrgios produced his trademark magic but was unable to stop Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open second round.
The adventure of watching Nick Kyrgios compete at the Australian Open is over for another season.
After Kyrgios opened a main draw campaign at his home Grand Slam with a dazzling win over Liam Broady on Tuesday, No.2 seed Daniil Medvedev was the 7-6(1) 6-4 4-6 6-2 winner of their second-round match this evening.
But if there was disappointment alongside the thrill of watching the unpredictable local, there was also the reassuring sense that Kyrgios – who was playing just his second match in almost four months – can still challenge the world’s best players.
“(I’m) incredibly proud of my performance today,” said Kyrgios. “You know, I’m going to hold my head high, I gave it everything, I put on a good performance. I think he’s going to be favored to win the Australian Open. I can’t be too upset.”
From the first ace of an eventual 17 to open the match, to his dozens of winners and trademark theatrics, Kyrgios maintained his pressure on the world No.2 Russian – who he’d beaten on both their previous encounters.
But where Medvedev – the reigning US Open champion – had scaled world No.2 heights since those 2019 matches, Kyrgios’ ranking has dipped thanks to a dramatically reduced schedule.
With asthma and COVID forcing his absence from the first two events of the 2022 season, Kyrgios arrived at his home Grand Slam with not a single match contested.
The contrasting preparations eventually showed as the sturdy Medvedev weathered the Kyrgios storm to triumph in two hours and 58 minutes.
First, though, the Russian’s famous tactical ability was tested as Kyrgios drew on the energy of an excited Rod Laver Arena crowd – and generated plenty of his own in the process.
While Medvedev gained an early advantage as he broke in the third game of the match, a fired-up Kyrgios kept pushing. In an epic eighth game he earned four break point opportunities; after a 26-stroke rally, the Australian converted with a blazing backhand winner.
Cool under pressure, Medvedev took control in the tiebreak. The Russian’s impenetrable composure in the frenzied setting seemed even more remarkable as he converted his lone break point in the eighth game to take the second set in 44 minutes.
And then peak Kyrgios arrived.
Thrilling the vocal crowd, a fired-up Kyrgios produced a ridiculous volley and a trademark tweener as he gained the decisive service break in the seventh game. After wild celebrations, including a lap of the court, an underarm serve featured as Kyrgios consolidated and went on to secure the set in 38 minutes.
And still Medvedev stayed calm. A brief off-court break helped him hit the reset button ahead of the fourth set and as errors crept in for Kyrgios, the Russian pounced to take a 4-2 lead.
He maintained momentum to secure the match with a commanding forehand winner.
Medvedev’s strengths had arguably been overshadowed by the Kyrgios show, but 31 aces among 68 total winners highlighted his many weapons.
“If you asked everyone on tour, I think that he would be, I think they would probably vote him the best player in the world at the moment,” Kyrgios surmised.
“His consistency. Every game he doesn’t drop his level, he shows up every game, plays – I think no matter what the score is or how much pressure he’s under he never kind of gets flustered. He just has so much belief in his game.
“I think he led the tour in wins last year. He’s just so confident right now.”
Given the monumental challenges, the Australian could take many positives from the match.
“I’m super proud of my performance today,” said Kyrgios, who related that he will next compete at the Dallas Open in February.
“From where I was with my struggles the last four, five months, to be feeling like this and, obviously had COVID a couple days before … I’m just proud of the way I responded.”
Australian Open 2022
Men’s singles, second round
 Alex de Minaur (AUS) d Kamil Majchrzak (POL) 6-4 6-4 6-2
[WC] Chris O’Connell (AUS) d  Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 7-6(6) 6-4 6-4
 Daniil Medvedev (RUS) d Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 7-6(1) 6-4 4-6 6-2
Women’s singles, second round
[WC] Maddison Inglis (AUS) d [Q] Hailey Baptiste (USA) 7-6(4) 2-6 6-2
 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d [WC] Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-2 6-2
Women’s singles, third round
 Ash Barty (AUS) v  Camila Giorgi (ITA)
[WC] Maddison Inglis (AUS) v Kaia Kanepi (EST)
Men’s singles, third round
[WC] Chris O’Connell (AUS) v Maxime Cressy (USA)
 Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Pablo Andujar (ESP)