Nick Kyrgios ended his 2022 US Open journey with a five-set defeat but left with a bang. Kyrgios, the No. 23 seed at the U.S. Open, lost 5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 4-6 to Russia's Karen Khachanov in a match that lasted three hours and 39 minutes. And that was the moment he did what didn't come as a surprise to many.
Kyrgios became upset after the defeat and before leaving the stadium, he slammed and shattered two rackets onto the court, breaking both of them. During the game, he also shattered and cracked a racket. The Australian tennis ace already had enough of controversy at this year's US Open and added yet another to the list after succumbing to the brutish power Khachanov.
Kyrgios Does It Again
In a match that was dominated by serve, with 61 aces almost evenly split, Kyrgios struggled to get going at first owing to a knee problem and may have regretted choosing to play doubles in this instance.
Although Kyrgios fought until the very end when in the past he could have given up, this was a depressing end to a transformational summer for him. He had a great chance to become the first Australian Major winner because there was no other champion in the field.
Instead, the muscular and slightly mechanical Khachanov, who maintained his focus, will now compete against Casper Ruud of Norway for a spot in the championship. Even when he's at his most enthusiastic, Kyrgios has an odd walk, but there was something noticeably less animated about him as the first set moved through so quickly.
The first eleven games, played under a barrage of aces from both players, were over in less than a half-hour, followed by a close third in which Kyrgios left the door open for the Russian to enter.
The trainer was then summoned, and when he arrived, he frantically massaged what at first appeared to be either side of the Australian's left knee. He informed his support box in the corner, "I don't want to play through this s**t," but he continued playing nevertheless and beat Khachanov in the third game.
Kyrgios Loses His Cool
Kyrgios gradually took control and limited himself to chuntering at the ends of what was, in reality, a dull match. However, when he missed a second break point to tie the game at 4-4 in the third, he lost his cool and threw his racket away in anger. He also screamed several quite audible profanities, which umpire James Keothavong chose to overlook.
He ultimately received a penalty for unsportsmanlike behavior for hurling a water bottle.
In the following game, Kyrgios had to avoid two set opportunities, one of which came from a horribly misplaced forehand by Khachanov as he dashed for the net.
The Russian did not make the same mistake when another two presented themselves in the next game, staying in the rally and winning it when Kyrgios netted a backhand. He was booed toward the tiebreak, where he was always in control and won it 7-3, by an increasingly obnoxious crowd that previously had included one man having a haircut.
Kyrgios' knee appeared to be no longer an issue, but he started the decider and only took two of nine break points, something he later regretted. And then came the outburst. Kyrgios shook hands and then hurriedly slammed two of his rackets into the court.
This isn't the first time that Kyrgios and Khachanov have had a heated battle. The most memorable matchup between Kyrgios and Khachanov took place on Twitter in 2020, despite the fact that their head-to-head record was even going into Tuesday night's quarterfinal matchup. During the peak of the pandemic, Kyrgios publicly criticized some tennis players, especially Novak Djokovic for running the Adria Tour while being unvaccinated, which prevented him from competing in the Open.
During the social media spat, Kyrgios later referred to Khachanov as a "absolute pelican" in addition to labeling the Serbian's conduct "boneheaded."
These two also engaged in some really interesting skirmishes on the court. Their most famous encounter took place in the 2020 Australian Open, where Kyrgios won in a nail-biting five-set battle that included four tie-breaks. At the Cincinnati Masters in 2019, Khachanov won the other encounter when Kyrgios collapsed in three sets and finished it off by spitting at chair umpire Fergus Murphy.