This US Open looked like a golden opportunity for Nick Kyrgios to win his first Grand Slam.
He defeated defending champion Daniil Medvedev in impressive fashion in the fourth round, Frances Tiafoe had knocked out Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic was unable to compete, leaving the men’s draw wide open.
And as he crashed out in a five-set epic against Russia’s Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals, Kyrgios’ frustration at such an opportunity simmered away: he smashed two rackets into the ground, stunning his frames without use
Khachanov, meanwhile, stood on the opposite side of the net with his arms in the air, celebrating his 7-5 4-6 7-5 6-7(3) 6-4 victory.
“I honestly feel like crap,” Kyrgios told reporters. “I feel like I’ve let so many people down. These four tournaments [the grand slams] they are the only ones that will matter. It’s like you have to start over. I have to wait until the Australian Open. It is simply devastating. Like, it’s heartbreaking. Not just for me, but for everyone I know who wants me to win.”
The first set went to 35 minutes, dominated by big serves from both players, until a couple of errors on Kyrgios’ final serve gave Khachanov the break and the set.
A forced break followed as the Australian took a medical time-out to receive treatment on his left knee before storming back to level the match in the second set.
“Obviously I’ve been playing a lot of tennis the last couple of months … I just split and tweaked it a little bit,” he later said of his knee. “It ended up feeling good. I’ve got a little bit of Deep Heat. Everybody’s carrying a little bit of a problem right now.”
Kyrgios’ momentum appeared to have spilled over in the third set as he created two break points in Khachanov’s first service game, then two more at 4-4. He couldn’t convert either of those chances, though, and it was Khachanov who took his chance to break back at 6-5 and regain the lead.
Frustrated at losing that set, Kyrgios broke a water bottle during the changeover and received a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The 27-year-old has already been fined $18,500 for four separate offenses at this year’s US Open, including spitting, swearing and breaking his racket, according to Reuters.
Although Kyrgios forced a fifth set, Khachanov broke in the first game, saved break points in his next two service games and closed out the match to advance to the semi-finals of a grand slam for the first time. He will now face Casper Ruud on Friday for a place in the US Open final.
“I’m super happy, super proud that I was able to finish the game, I could take it,” Khachanov said. “Serving for the match [is] never easy Yes, very happy to take this step forward to make my first semi-final.”
It also marked the end of Kyrgios’ most successful year at grand slams following his run to the Wimbledon final in July.
“That’s all people remember about a Grand Slam, whether you win or lose. I think almost every other tournament during the year is really a waste of time. You should run and show up at a Grand Slam , that’s what it reminds you of.”