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By Erik Gudris | @ATNTennis | Saturday, August 6, 2022

 
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Nick Kyrgios saved five match points before defeating Frances Tiafoe in a tense quarterfinal in Washington D.C.

Photo credit: Patrick Smith/Getty

If tennis fans wanted an indication of how Nick Kyrgios might play in a night match at the upcoming US Open, they didn’t have to look any further than his entertaining yet tense quarterfinal at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C.

Kyrgios, who won the D.C. title back in 2019, saved five match points in a super tight second tiebreak before going on to defeat his friend Frances Tiafoe 6-7(5), 7-6(12), 6-2 to return to the D.C. semifinals.


More: Djokovic Out of Montreal



The night match capped off a busy day for players in D.C. with several having to complete two matches in a row to make up for matches canceled yesterday due to rain. Another rain delay earlier this afternoon threatened to derail the schedule again, but fortunately rain held off to allow play to resume.

Those fans that waited around for the marquee match of the day that started close to 10 p.m. weren’t disappointed. The first time meeting between local favorite and No. 10 seed Tiafoe against the recent Wimbledon finalist Kyrgios was expected to deliver lots of entertaining shotmaking. And both men gave the crowd what they wanted early on in the first set with several lively exchanges.




Both players took care of their serve rather easily with rallies between each a rarity. Though when they did get into one, it often took a spectacular winner to win the point.




The first set ended up in a tiebreak, which Kyrgios took early control of with a 4-1 lead. Yet Tiafoe hung around and got back even with the Australian. Eventually, Tiafoe won a long rally with a clever drop shot winner to take command. Tiafoe soon held set point with help from a Kyrgios double fault. Tiafoe then sealed the first set 7-6(5) with an ace.

As the second set started, Tiafoe looked like a man on a mission to reach the semifinals at his hometown event. Kyrgios, on the other hand, began looking distracted and annoyed during points. Often directing his ire at vocal fans up in the stands and then at chair umpire Renaud Lichentenstein not doing something about it.

Both men continued holding serve rather easily as the second set headed into an inevitable tiebreak. Though before that Tiafoe delighted the crowd with another spectacular point.

blockquote class="twitter-tweet">

WHAT A POINT 🤯🤯@FTiafoe | @CitiOpen | #CitiOpen pic.twitter.com/lmhqU0Vp8u

— ATP Tour (@atptour) August 6, 2022

The second set tiebreak proved a titanic struggle with both men trying to gain the advantage. While Tiafoe tried to will himself over the finish line, Kyrgios once again showed off his almost unperturbed casualness when saving match points late in the tiebreak.

Kyrgios saved five match points in all, one with a casual backhand down the line winner, another with a laser like return right at Tiafoe’s feet, and another with a lazy but effective drop shot winner.

Kyrgios eventually held his fourth set point at 13-12 and then won an extended rally to send the match into a decider. That, and Kyrgios’ constant chatter while Tiafoe tried to serve sent Tiafoe into a tirade off his own directed at the umpire.

The final set went all in the direction for Kyrgios from there. Likely due to losing the tough second set tiebreak, Tiafoe surrendered the first service break in the opening game after he sent a forehand wide while down break point. Kyrgios took command by taking care of his own serve. Kyrgios would then earn another service break late in the set over a deflated looking Tiafoe.

Kyrgios, who struck 35 aces in the match, eventually served out the 6-7(5), 7-6(12), 6-2 victory.

Next up for Kyrgios is Sweden’s Mikael Ymer who reached his first ever ATP 500 level semifinal. Ymer, who led Seb Korda early 6-2, 5-2 in their quarterfinal, eventually found a way to pull off the 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 win.

Top seed Andrey Rublev of Russia had an easier time reaching the semifinals as he downed a pair of Americans on the way. First Rublev dismissed Maxime Cressy 6-4, 7-6(8). And then later in the evening, Rublev knocked out J.J. Wolf playing in his first ever ATP level quarterfinal 6-2, 6-3.

Waiting for Rublev is Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka. The World No. 96 Nishioka upset No. 16 Dan Evans of the U.K. 7-6(5), 6-4, 7-5 to reach the final four.

 

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