Nick Kyrgios: “I feel like I’ve come a long way”
As he builds on a career best Grand Slam season, Nick Kyrgios senses a big opportunity in a fourth-round US Open meeting with world No.1 Daniil Medvedev.
Entering the second week of the US Open for the first time in nine appearances, Nick Kyrgios can appreciate the magnitude of his journey.
At the same time last year, Kyrgios claimed only seven games in a first-round loss to Roberto Bautista Agut. His previous best at Flushing Meadows was reaching the third round on four occasions.
But with just one set dropped in three 2022 matches, Kyrgios sees tantalising possibilities this season.
After booking a fourth-round appearance with a no-fuss win against American wildcard J.J. Wolf in his best match of the tournament, Kyrgios noted how his steady improvements reflect the golden form he’s discovered in recent months
“I thought I was much more composed today than I was in my second round. I actually tried to work on it today,” said Kyrgios after completing victory over Wolf in less than two hours.
“I didn’t want to be so up and down, so much of a roller coaster. For me and my team, I wanted us to kind of enjoy the way I’m playing, the form I have at the moment. It’s amazing,”
Taking in the Wimbledon final and a seventh ATP singles title in Washington, Kyrgios is a winner in 25 of the 30 matches he’s contested since the start of the grass-court season.
After falling to world No.122 in February, he’s also soared back to No.25 in the rankings. Had points been awarded at Wimbledon, Kyrgios would have verged on the world No.13 rankings peak he scaled in 2016.
It’s important progress for the famously home-loving Canberran. Having glimpsed the possibility of lifting a Grand Slam trophy, Kyrgios is determined to make his time on tour count.
“I want to try to make this worthwhile and get the most out of it before we head home. I think it’s going to make that time better,” said Kyrgios, who recognises the value of another career-best Grand Slam run.
“I’ve never been to the fourth round before of the US Open, so I feel like I’ve come a long way.”
Still, that’s nothing compared to where Kyrgios’ journey might next take him.
The No.23 seed set arguably the most absorbing fourth-round match of the US Open men’s draw against Daniil Medvedev. The Russian is both No.1 seed and defending champion at Flushing Meadows, but Kyrgios takes a 3-1 head-to-head record into their encounter.
And while Medvedev claimed their only Grand Slam match, at Australian Open 2022, Kyrgios was a 6-7(2) 6-4 6-2 winner in their most recent meeting in Montreal.
A respectful Kyrgios notes that “we put that (match) behind us”. At the same time, he points out how he typically brings his best to the game’s biggest stages.
“I don’t want to be playing futures or challengers on backcourts with no crowd. That’s not why I play this sport. That’s not why I pick up a racquet,” said Kyrgios.
“I want to be playing on the biggest stadiums in the world in front of millions of people broadcasted globally. That’s where I want to be. That is why I work hard.”
At age 27, Kyrgios’ off-court focus is now a strategic one, with improved fitness and more effective return of serve a factor in his recent rise.
“Three things I worked on were getting in better shape, adding more variety to my second serve, and every day, every practice session, I’ll allocate five to 10 minutes working on my forehand return. Five, 10 minutes adds up every day into hours,” said Kyrgios, who converted five of his 11 break point opportunity against Wolf.
“I want to be able to put that pressure on players. I’m proud of it. I drove that. I didn’t have a coach. I analysed my game. I put in the work. I’m seeing the results.”
Justifiably confident, Kyrgios can sense a big opportunity against Medvedev. “I embrace it. Win or lose, I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I’ve worked hard to be in the fourth round against the US Open,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be a fun battle.”
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