Nick Kyrgios is “super excited” after continuing his career-best season by powering into the final of the Citi Open in Washington.
Backing up from his gruelling tournament workload so far – the Australian maverick finished off Reilly Opelka in their round of 16 clash on Friday then saved five match points in an epic quarter-final win over Frances Tiafoe yesterday – Kyrgios calmly dealt with Sweden’s Mikael Ymer in straight sets to swagger into another decider.
Kyrgios produced another imperious serving display to beat the 23-year-old Ymer 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 in what was the Wimbledon runner-up’s fifth semi-final appearance from his past six events. Only an abdominal strain in Mallorca tarnished the impressive streak.
Yet to be broken all week in the American capital, Kyrgios didn’t face a solitary break point against Ymer, who had ousted former world No 1 Andy Murray in the first round. Ever the showman, Kyrgios brought up set point in the opener with his 80th ace of the tournament and sealed the set with a lovely serve-volley play and backhand flick overhead winner.
The second set also proved a serving duel but the Swede was always going to come out second best against Kyrgios in this type of mood as the Australian reeled off the last three games to prevail in one hour, 34 minutes.
Kyrgios hadn’t made a final for three years but now he’s reached two in less than a month, including his breakout run to his maiden grand slam title match at Wimbledon. That four-set defeat to Djokovic at the All England Club remains the 27-year-old’s only loss in his past 11 matches since mid-June.
“Honestly I didn’t play anywhere near my best tennis today,” Kyrgios said after the match. “The past couple of matches I’ve been on paper, rankings-wise the underdog, but today I definitely felt like the favourite. I served pretty solid. Obviously my winning percentage behind my first serve would have been high, but from the back of the court I didn’t play well at all.
“The difference was he stands on the fast and he makes you play that extra ball. He’s an incredible athlete and I really wasn’t expecting him to be that fast,” Kyrgios said of his rival. “Maybe next time I might have a couple different tactics when I play him, maybe not to try and out rally him, maybe come forward a little bit more. But it was a tough-fought semi-final. I’m just happy to be in another final.
Kyrgios only hit 10 aces against Ymer, compared with the 35 thunderbolts he sent down against Tiafoe in their quarter-final epic, but it was good enough for the victory. “I didn’t get to sleep until 4.50am. I had so much adrenaline,” Kyrgios grinned. “I ate some dinner, got some treatment, my body was so sore after last night.
“It was an epic battle (against Tiafoe). I didn’t really do much today and I felt like my energy was a little flat today early on,” the kid from Canberra shrugged. “It’s understandable – I’m only human – but my adrenaline for the final is going to be right there. I’m super excited for it.”
Had the ATP not stripped Wimbledon of rankings points in objection to the All England Club’s banning of Russian and Belarusian players because of the invasion of Ukraine, Kyrgios would have regained his place in the world’s top 15. Instead he remains at No 63 and continues to make a mockery of the men’s rankings, which ridiculously also have Djokovic at world No 6, the Serbian superstar’s lowest position in 15 years.
Kyrgios’s run in Washington guarantees the 27-year-old’s rise to at least No 42 in the world and he’s projected to climb to 37th if he lands a seventh pro title. And with big events coming up in Montreal and Cincinnati, Kyrgios is on track to secure an all-important seeding for the US Open starting on August 29 in New York.
The most recent of Kyrgios’s ATP titles came here in Washington in 2019 and he’ll be hoping to snare another when he plays either Russian top seed Andrey Rublev or Japanese left-hander Yoshihito Nishioka in what will be his 11th career final.