Kyrgios Serves Past Ymer To Reach Washington Final
Three years after one of the best tournaments of his career, Nick Kyrgios is back in the Citi Open final.
The 2019 Washington champion battled past Mikael Ymer 7-6(4), 6-3 on Saturday to reach the championship match of the ATP 500 for the second time. He will play top seed Andrey Rublev or Japanese lefty Yoshihito Nishioka for the title.
“Honestly I didn’t play anywhere near my best tennis today and I don’t know. The role was reversed, the past couple matches I’ve been on paper, rankings-wise the underdog in my past couple matches, but today I definitely felt like the favourite,” Kyrgios said in his on-court interview. “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.”
On Friday, the Australian won two matches and saved five match points in the second of those clashes, in the quarter-finals against Frances Tiafoe. Kyrgios did not have his back up against the wall again, but he did have to work hard to oust Ymer.
The Swede, who ousted former World No. 1 Andy Murray in the first round, used his speed and defensive skills to great effect throughout the week and did so again on Saturday, finding small openings with sublime backhand passing shots.
But the match was on Kyrgios’ racquet, and the 27-year-old relied on his big serving and baseline power in key moments to triumph after one hour and 35 minutes. He was not at his flying best, showing consistent frustration throughout the first set, but his serve kept him out of danger as he did not face a break point. Kyrgios did not hit 35 aces like he did against Tiafoe, striking 10, but it was good enough for the victory.
“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. “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 and I’m just happy to be in the final once again.”
The first set could have gone either way, with the pair tied at 4/4 in the first-set tie-break. In an uncharacteristic Kyrgios rally, which featured plenty of slices between the two, the Australian prevailed after 24 shots to seize the mini break and eventually, the set.
Kyrgios struggled to break through on Ymer’s serve until 4-3 in the second set, when he finally earned the match’s only break by flicking a forehand half volley from no-man’s land crosscourt and out of the reach of the lunging Swede.
The World No. 63 is up to No. 42 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. If Kyrgios lifts the trophy on Sunday, he will climb to No. 37.
Did You Know?
Kyrgios has made the final of consecutive tour-level tournaments for the first time in his career. If he claims the Washington crown, it will be his first ATP Tour victory since 2019 at the same event.