‘Enfant terrible’ Kyrgios may be out, but that doesn’t mean his day won’t come
Dem’s da breaks in Noo Yoik.
And da double-faults. And da medical time-outs.
And da self-indulgent “tweener” trick shots that saw a point lost that might otherwise have been won.
Just when it seemed like Nick Kyrgios had the whole world at his feet with a spot in the semi-finals of the US Open at his mercy if he could just beat the Russian, Karen Khachanov, it all faded away.
Jelena Dokic, commentating on Channel Nine, picked it early in the match, saying “Nick looks a little flat today.”
Yup. From the beginning, our bloke never remotely looked like the same player who had, almost effortlessly, destroyed the world No.1 and defending US Open champion, Daniil Medvedev two days earlier.
Nick Kyrgios in his quarter-final match.Credit:Getty
And it wasn’t just that the nation’s enfant terrible was moving so comparatively sluggishly, and missing shots. It was that beyond a fair bit of rueful shaking of the head, early on it didn’t seem to bother him that much.
Things were so grim, soooooo grim, that from my corner I was even hoping to see a little of that which I had long decried, some classic Kyrgios: abusing the people in his player’s box. You know, just to show he was alive, and we had a bit of the ol’ Nick in there?
In fact, nearing the end of the first set, we got a little engagement with the box, even if it was less abuse, than a plaint about pain in his legs.
“I don’t want to $%^& play through this,” Kyrgios called to his people.
“Work your way through it,” they called back. “Keep that energy up.”
And after a medical time-out, Kyrgios did the best he could, upping the ante and playing with more energy, if still the same maddening bursts of seeming self-indulgence exemplified by the said “tweeners”.
Who does that, in the quarter-final of the US Open?
Kyrgios does. And despite playing so ordinarily by his exalted standards, he was still able to take the second set to even things up.
We lived in hope.
Would the real Nick Kyrgios arise? When, shortly after shouting at his box and abusing his racquet, he was able to stare down two set points to hold his serve at the end of the third set, it seemed likely – only to lose his next service game, and the set, ten minutes later.
In the fourth set, we saw a glimmer of glamour from Kyrgios – a few near-impossible shots that he pulled off, followed by enough showmanship to several times lift his hat in acknowledgement of the warm applause. And despite being at one point just two points from losing the match, he still rallied magnificently to take the set.
And so to the fifth set. Bases are loaded. Kyrgios at the plate, with the momentum with him, and the crowd.
But it was simply not to be. The Australian fought mightily, constantly pulling off miracles when all seemed lost … until all was indeed lost.
Nick Kyrgios in action in the US Open.Credit:AP
Khachanov wins, 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-7, 6-4.
So, all up, for those who still believe in Kyrgios, the whole thing was hugely disappointing, notwithstanding the fact that Karen Khachanov himself played brilliantly to beat him.
Still, is there nothing to salvage from this whole US Open outing for the Australian?
Actually, there is a little.
See, despite the disappointment of this last match, at least Kyrgios himself now seems to acknowledge what everyone else has talked about for years: just what a staggering pity it will be if one of his phenomenal talent doesn’t notch up a major or two along the way.
“I was just really sick of letting people down,” he said after his victory over Medvedev. “I feel like I’m making people proud now. I feel there’s not as much negative things being said about me. I just wanted to turn the narrative around almost. That’s basically it. I just was feeling so depressed all the time, so feeling sorry for myself. I just wanted to change that.”
Despite this last loss, he actually has changed that narrative a little.
To this point it has been, “Kyrgios, genius player, never fulfilled his potential, and never likely to.”
Now it is “Kyrgios, GENIUS player, hasn’t fulfilled his potential, yet, but gee, he still just might!”
That, friends, is the best spin I can put on an otherwise disappointing result for the man who John McEnroe has rightly called “a genius”.
It’s just such a pity that, once again, when the Promised Land looked to just up ahead … it proved to be no more than an arid valley.
But he will get there!
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