“This week has been awesome,” Nick Kyrgios said on Saturday at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. “It’s probably one of the best tournament weeks of my life.”
What made it so special for the man who’s middle name might as well be “mercurial”? He had never won, or even finished, a match in D.C. before this year. Was it making the final? Was it beating the top seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas, in the semis in a third-set tiebreaker? Was it choosing someone in the crowd to be his personal coach each night?
The first thing that came to Kyrgios’s mind was something simpler. He was happy that he had stuck it out.
“Five days in a row competing,” he said. “I’m pretty happy with myself.”
Make that six. On Sunday, Kyrgios may have put in his most impressive performance of the week, from the standpoint of gritting out a close win, in beating Daniil Medvedev, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4). Kyrgios was troubled by back tightness in the first set. He failed to get to deuce—let alone earn a break point—on Medvedev’s serve. He was down 2-5 and 5-6 in the first-set tiebreaker and appeared to be ready to throw in the towel. But he didn’t.
极速赛车双面盘Instead, he dug in, played within himself, toned down the showmanship, and showed enough patience and confidence in his conventional game to win a couple of crucial long rallies at the end of the tiebreaker。 He hit an ace when he needed it, a drop-shot winner when he needed it, and a forehand pass when he needed it。 In the second set, Kyrgios came to the net early and often, and his ability to finish points there proved to be a difference-maker against Medvedev, who struggles at net。 Kyrgios is known for his trick shots, but he won this match, and this tournament, by hitting the right shots。
“I’m just doing the right things,” Kyrgios said. “I’m having the same routine every day. “I’m trying to improve on a lot of little habits, and it’s paying off.”
极速赛车双面盘Of course, Kyrgios also hit a lot of trick shots—his week in D。C。 was, among other things, a primer on how to hit the front-facing tweener, the underhand serve, the drop shot while falling backward behind the baseline, the no-look crosscourt volley, and the 113-m。p。h。 forehand—as well as 110 aces。 From his opening-night doubles match with Tsitsipas through his final-round win over Medvedev, Kyrgios showed off a little bit of everything—the good, the bad, and the clutch。
The Nick Kyrgios show ran all week in the nation's capital. (Getty Images)
His semifinal match with Tsitsipas can serve as a microcosm of the roller-coaster he put the fans in D.C. on. Kyrgios began in entertainer mode, hitting Monfilsian leaping overheads and jumping drop shots, sprinting to the sideline after closing out games, fist-bumping with fans in the front row, hand-delivering Tsitsipas a new pair of shoes, and even throwing in some honest-to-god, earnest, I’m-just-out-here-to-win fist-pumps. He had the crowd eating out of his hand.
But Kyrgios will never be a pure, fun-loving, easygoing entertainer in the manner of his fellow Aussies of old; when the frustration mounts, the motivation can vanish in a hurry. In this case, it was a comment from a fan that threw him off as he was serving. Now, instead of playing to the crowd, he began to grumble at them. Instead of sprinting to the sideline, he smashed his racquet, then picked it up and smashed it again. Instead of fist-pumping, he told his player box that he was over this match.
“It was spiraling out of control at one point. I’ve been in that position a lot, and it’s gone even worse,” Kyrgios said. “So I’m pretty happy with myself the way I tried to drag it back from a dark place.”
Kyrgios won his second ATP 500 tournament of the season on Sunday. (Getty Images)
On another night, in front of another crowd, against another opponent, that downward spiral may have continued—and it may again on other nights in the future. But as Kyrgios said, this week he competed, and he ended up saving a match point against Tsitsipas in the third-set tiebreaker. We’ve always said that Kyrgios is a big-stage kind of guy, but this was his second win at a 500-level event this season (the first came in Acapulco). Maybe he’s more comfortable on a slightly smaller stage, one where he can be the master of ceremonies—one where he can, in his best and most memorable move of the week, get match-point advice from a member of the crowd, and then celebrate with them when the tip pays off.
极速赛车双面盘Kyrgios has been hard on himself after defeats in the past. This week, though, he spoke with pride about what he has accomplished, despite being, as he said on Saturday, a “very overweight kid.”
“I’ve beaten every single one of the best tennis players in the world doing it my way,” Kyrgios said, “and I’m never going to stop doing that。”
Rather than worrying about how he hasn’t won a Slam or cracked the Top 10, maybe Kyrgios is smart to focus on how well he has played the Djokovics, Federers and Nadals of the world—few have been better at facing them down. If he can compete the way he did in D.C. over longer stretches in the future, the stages he wins on really will get bigger.
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