Australia’s Nick Kyrgios has again played an epic five-set match against Karen Khachenov at a grand slam.
The last time they met was at 2020 Australian Open when Kyrgios defeated his opponent in five sets, four of them decided in a tie-breaker. The match lasted four hours and 26 minutes.
This time at the US Open they again went the distance, this time it was Khachenov that claimed victory.
Khachenov, a former top-ten player held his nerve when it mattered and just got the better of the Australian.
In the first set both players were holding serve comfortably, suddenly that changed in the 12th game with Kyrgios serving.
Kyrgios sent a forehand long at 15-15 to fall behind on serve for the first time. The Australian hit back with an unplayable serve, then a backhand winner to go to 40-30.
Another forehand error from Kyrgios brought up the first deuce of the match. A double-fault gave Khachenov a set point.
Kyrgios chose to serve and volley on the second serve, his volley was a looping one that Khachenov lobbed his opponent for a winner and with that, he claimed the first set.
After the first set, the Australian got treatment on his left knee. It had seemed to affect his backhand.
Kyrgios would strike first in the second set. He broke serve to lead 2-1. From there he was able to hold serve to take the second set 6-4.
Khachenov was immediately under pressure at the start of the third set. When he pulled a forehand wide he was suddenly facing a breakpoint. A wide Ace erased that breakpoint.
A down-the-line backhand from Kyrgios that just landed in earned the Australian his second breakpoint opportunity in that game.
Again a well-placed wide serve to the backhand of Kyrgios save the breakpoint. An Ace would close out that game.
In the ninth game, it was again Khachenov that was facing breakpoints. He was down 15-40 after netting a backhand and then Kyrgios blasted a forehand winner.
Another Ace out wide and another breakpoint was saved, one still remained. Kyrgios hit well long and then tossed his racquet into the court.
Kyrgios added to his frustration when he netted a forehand after looking in control.
Khachenov fired down another Ace to escape that game, he lead 5-4.
Kyrgios was then facing set points against him in the next service game when he found himself at 15-40. He fought back to hold, although he was lucky that Khachenov made a mess of a short forehand on his first breakpoint opportunity. It was an ugly miss that sailed well past the sideline.
Again in the 12th game of a set Kyrgios would pay dearly for a bad game.
A serve and volley play from Kyrgios on the opening point saw Khachenov again lob for a winner.
A poorly played drop shot that went into the net saw Kyrgios at 0-30, a forehand winner got him back to 15-30.
Another shot into the net and Kyrgios was in trouble at 15-40. Some big hitting wasn’t enough as Khachenov kept getting the ball back to Kyrgios. The Australian would eventually net a backhand to lose the set.
In the fourth set, it was Kyrgios that broke for a 3-2 lead, only to be broken back in the next game.
Kyrgios again had a chance to break in the ninth game, but he didn’t convert. Games went with serve to take the set to a tiebreaker.
Kyrgios dominated and won the breaker 6-3.
So it was to be decided in the fifth set, just like in 2020.
Going into the fifth Kyrgios was 11-3 in five-set matches, Khachenov 7-8.
Kyrgios won the opening point of the first game before losing the next two. As the three hour mark was reached Kyrgios again came to the net only to be passed to give Khachenov a breakpoint.
A long rally followed in which Kyrgios finally made an error, hitting a backhand into the net.
That break of serve would prove crucial. Kyrgios wasn’t able to break the serve of his opponent and the Russian would claim a memorable win to advance to his first Grand Slam semifinal.
Kygios shook hands and then proceeded to take out his anger on a few rackets.
“I’m obviously devastated,” Kyrgios said after the match. “But all credit to Karen. He’s a fighter. He’s a warrior. I thought he served really good today. Probably the best server I played this tournament, to be honest, the way he was hitting his spots under pressure.”
“I did it! I did it!,” Khachanov said. “I’m really proud of myself, I was focussed from the beginning to the end.
“It was a crazy match but I came ready to fight and to play five sets.”