*Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 5-7 4-5 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
At 15-15, we get some unwanted crowd noise that brings us to a temporary halt. The crowd is further energized when Kyrgios gets break point, but Khachanov cranks up the power to take the next three to hold.
The umpire has asked a couple of times for the crowd to “respect both players.” Does that strike anyone else as a bit of a reminder to Khachanov that the crowd favors Kyrgios?
Kyrgios now serving to prolong this match.
Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 5-7 4-4 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
At 15-15, we get some unwanted crowd noise that brings us to a temporary halt. Kyrgios seems to gain a bit of energy from it and clinches the next point with a loud grunt and powerful shot. He drops the next but reacts nicely to a shot off the net cord to smash his way to 40-30.
Guess what’s next? If you said “ace,” you’re right.
Vincent in Miami writes: “I get your point but oftentimes tiebreakers serve great tennis. I like them.”
I suppose the fact that they’re a pain to live-blog might be skewing my opinion here.
*Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 5-7 3-4 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
Unforced error for Khachanov, and then it’s a routine run of four points to hold.
Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 5-7 3-3 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
Kyrgios fights his way through a long rally that ends with Khachanov hits long. He returns the favor on the next point.
Then the serve-and-volley doesn’t work, and it’s 15-30.
Then the serve-and-volley doesn’t work, and it’s 15-40.
Double break point. Double fault. Yikes.
*Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 5-7 3-2 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
What was I saying about Khachanov not making any mistakes? He makes a couple in this game, and it’s 15-30. Then a double fault. Two break points.
Khachanov impetuously hits long. Break.
Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 5-7 2-2 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
Winner, winner, ace, ace. Kyrgios’ service games are routine … until they’re not, at 5-6 of the first and third sets.
*Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 5-7 1-2 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
Khachanov just isn’t making mistakes. Just 18 unforced errors to Kyrgios’ 41. Just one double fault. If you want to be picky, he has only landed 58% of his first serves. But he has won 71% of the points on his second serve, so it hardly matters.
He holds at love.
Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 5-7 1-1 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
Kyrgios walks up to the line to serve, looks across and sees no opponent. It’s not that Khachanov was milking the changeover. Kyrgios just wanted to get going that quickly.
Khachanov takes one point off Kyrgios’ serve, but it’s a routine hold.
*Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 5-7 0-1 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
Not sure Body Armor wants this sort of publicity. Kyrgios goes back to his seat and takes a sip of water. Then he picks up a bottle of Body Armor and smashes it. Another bottle of unidentified liquid goes smash as well. The ball kids bring out towels, and Kyrgios gets a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Khachanov is simply in control in all senses, and he holds at love.
Oh dear. An unforced error from Kyrgios makes it 0-30. Another makes it 15-40, and Kyrgios is speaking angrily again. A long rally follows, and Khachanov has been winning most of those. He does so again.
Kyrgios seemed to be better through so much of that set. Now he’s down 2-1.
*Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 5-6 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
Again, I want some of that cream the trainer put on Kyrgios’ leg. He races one way and hits it the other to make it 15-15. He faces a second serve on the next point and hops several feet up before Khachanov swings.
They are slugging it out now. The rallies are getting long. Khachanov is getting noisier, with a martial arts-movie style “Hynnuuhhhn!” with most of his shots. Or maybe “Hiyhhn!”
A Khachanov error makes it 40-30, and a chant of “Here we go, Nicky” breaks out. There’s more crowd noise as Khachanov is ready to toss the ball for his next serve, and the umpire asks for quiet. He gets it, more or less, and Khachanov closes out the game.
So we’ll either have a tiebreaker or a 2-1 Khachanov lead.
Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 5-5 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
During the changeover, Kyrgios slapped a camera. Not a cameraman. A camera.
And his bad mood extends into the first two points, where he’s just not as sharp as he has been. He takes the next, but his serve-and-volley attempt on the next is just weak. Two set points.
Kyrgios then opens the door wide, hanging a drop shot where Khachanov can slam it. And he does. Maybe 10 feet wide. Inexplicably.
Ace – oh, excuse me, “backhand forced error.” Ad-Kyrgios.
Another “forced error.” Kyrgios has held.
*Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 4-5 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
Well now. Kyrgios mixes in a couple of offbeat shots at 15-15, and he’s up 15-30. Then a booming winner gets the crowd to its feet. For the first time tonight, Kyrgios engages, waving his racket for more noise. The umpire has to quiet the crowd before we get to the two break points.
The first doesn’t last long. Ace. Nice response by Khachanov.
Kyrgios returns well on the next one, but after a brief exchange, he hits long. Racket goes smash.
At deuce, Kyrgios plays an exceptional rally, threatening with every shot. Somehow, Khachanov stays in it, and Kyrgios hits into the net. Khachanov holds with an ace, and Kyrgios stomps his way into the changeover, furious with himself for missing that chance.
Mad Nick is in the house.
Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 4-4 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
I have a proposal, so hear me out: No tiebreakers in the first four sets. If a set ends 6-6, it’s tied. A match would be the first to 2 1/2 sets rather than the first to three sets.
Sample: Dure wins first set. Lutz wins second set. Third set is tied. Then I win the fourth. That’s 2 1/2 sets. I win.
Anyway, Kyrgios hits a service winner, forces an error, then hits two aces. That was probably less than a minute.
*Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 3-4 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
Can I get some of whatever the trainer put on Kyrgios’ leg? He’s moving pretty well now, and we have a couple of decent rallies. Then Khachanov hits a couple of aces to hold.
Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 3-3 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
A double fault displeases Kyrgios, but he comes right back with one serve Khachanov barely touches and another that he can’t. A second straight ace completes the hold.
*Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 2-3 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
At 15-all, Kyrgios makes Khachanov do his impression of the Energizer buddy, or possibly the last ship in a game of Space Invaders. Khachanov manages to win that one, then the next, then the next, and we’re still on serve.
Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 2-2 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
Nick Kyrgios is good at serving.
*Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 1-2 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
At 30-0, Kyrgios yells at somebody about something. First time we’ve really seen that tonight. Khachanov then fires off an ace and another booming serve to hold at love.
Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 1-1 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
Kyrgios holds at love. Piece of cake. Can anyone bring me some cake? I’m about to have a sugar crash.
I neglected to mention this a few games ago.
*Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 0-1 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
Break point for Kyrgios after some strong shots. Khachanov responds with an ace. Another great backhand from Kyrgios. Another great Khachanov serve.
We’re finally slowing down. A few rallies. Some games going to deuce. This one goes there for the third time, but Khachanov uncorks a couple of booming serves to hold.
C Meredith notes my last comment about writing for British and Australian people: “So I’m writing to let you know that I am a Yank following your commentary and I can’t be the only one! I love all The Guardian’s tennis commentary and really miss it on the evenings that it’s unavailable. Keep up the fantastic work!”
Quick personal note: I was working at USA Today when I started to notice The Guardian’s live coverage. I “borrowed” the idea and the tone for our coverage. It’s fun to come full circle and be here at The Guardian. It’s almost as if Weird Al got a chance to play with Madonna.
Kyrgios just makes the absurd look simple. He serves and volleys, with the volley being a shot that travels in a tiny arc over the net and lightly falls to the court.
But he also makes the simple look absurd. He tries the same shot again and misses. An unforced error takes us to deuce. A booming serve gives him another set point. Another booming serve gives him the set.
One set apiece. Total time of 1:16. Gauff and Garcia needed 1:37, and they played three fewer games.
*Kyrgios 5-7 5-4 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
An ace gets Khachanov to 30-15. A shot that everyone except Hawk-Eye believes it out gets it to 40-15. Kyrgios hits the next return a bit wildly, content to try to serve out the set.
Kyrgios 5-7 5-3 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
The ball is in play a surprising amount on the first two points, ending in one unforced error each way. Kyrgios then paints the sideline with a second serve that Khachanov can’t return cleanly. A double fault makes it 30-30, but Khachanov can barely touch the next serve. Then Kyrgios simply overpowers Khachanov on the next rally to hold.
*Kyrgios 5-7 4-3 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
Down 0-40, Kyrgios decides to play a through-the-legs shot just for fun. The next shot is a winner. Even when he’s not particularly excited or agitated, Kyrgios is a showman. Khachanov then closes out the game.
Stat: Kyrgios has 14 aces and 29 winners. He also has 19 unforced errors to Khachanov’s five. In Kyrgio’s defense, there haven’t been many points in which Khachanov could hit an unforced error.
Kyrgios 5-7 4-2 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
Boom boom boom boom (harmonica riff). Two aces, two errors forced. Who needs to be able to move when you can serve like this?
*Kyrgios 5-7 3-2 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
Nice backhand winner for Kyrgios, but then it’s two aces and two more shots Kyrgios can’t return.
Carmine Branagan tells me by email that my commentary is a million times better than what (name of major US news organization not ESPN) delivers. Yeah, but I’m writing for a bunch of British people and Australians, so I have to be … what’s the word? Urbane? No, that’s not it. I’ll think about it …
Kyrgios 5-7 3-1 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
Brief rally. Ace. Serve-and-volley winner. 40-0.
But then it’s two unforced errors on his backhand, the second one on a serve-and-volley attempt that he dinks into the net.
The next serve sends Khachanov far wide, but Kyrgios can’t put it away. Khachanov lobs. Kyrgios runs back to try the through-the-legs shot but finds the net. Deuce.
Kyrgios draws Khachanov to the net with a drop shot, then hits a medium-speed lob that floats right over Khachanov and drops neatly in. Khachanov follows with an unforced error, and Kyrgios holds.
*Kyrgios 5-7 2-1 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
Kyrgios sets himself up for a good smash on the first point. Khachanov takes the next two but then double faults. 30-30.
Khachanov drives one to the baseline and approaches the net. Kyrgios neatly drops it right at the net, and Khachanov unwisely hits it without letting it bounce. Break point!
Long rally. And still going. By the standard of this match, this is an absolute epic. Kyrgios has the better of it, barely needing to move on his injured leg, and he finally gets Khachanov to falter. Kyrgios has his break. He still looks like he’s reporting to a dull office job.
Kyrgios 5-7 1-1 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
And yet, Kyrgios still has that serve. Ace. Winner, set up by a big serve.
But then he misses a shot and has an uncomfortable chat with his entourage about missing more backhands tonight than he has all season. “I don’t want to (bleep)ing play through this (bleep),” he says.
He dutifully walks back to serve.
Ace. Winner, set up by a big serve.
*Kyrgios 5-7 0-1 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
The Kyrgios box is pleased with their guy’s performance in the third point of the game, a medium-length rally that sees him cut the lead to 30-15. He hits just wide on the next point, then hits into the net in the next.
This just doesn’t look good.
Kyrgios is grimacing now. He stands and strides into position, dabbing at his head with a towel.
The ESPN commentators are shouting at each other about whether yesterday’s double match is playing a role in Kyrgios’ flat performance thus far. But they agree that it’s flat.
Kyrgios has confirmed what we all feared. His left leg is in bad shape. He says he can’t walk – an exaggeration, sure, but not a good thing to hear. A trainer comes out and rubs a copious amount of cream on the calf, just under the knee. This is going on a while.
And this explains why Kyrgios just doesn’t have the energy he’s had in the past couple of matches.
Will he continue?
Robert Speed writes: “In the boxing parlance, styles make fights. This is not a good match-up from that perspective. A bit same same.”
Yeah, it’s a bit like two guys taking turns on a punching bag.
Kyrgios opens with, wait for it, an ace. He follows with two indifferent points, then hits another ace. His next serve is somehow returned, but Kyrgios easily drives it for the winner.
But then it’s a couple of errors. A double fault gives Khachanov set point. Kyrgios comes to the net on the next point, and Khachanov coolly lobs to the far corner.
Just like that, after a set in which the word “deuce” had not been uttered, we have a break, and Kyrgios is down a set. What’s strange is that he doesn’t seem angry. He doesn’t seem dejected. This is just … happening.
*Kyrgios 5-6 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
Khahanov must be wishing we were playing poker here, because he just picked up four aces. Kyrgios didn’t exert himself too much chasing them, though.
Kyrgios 5-5 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
Ace on your second serve? Yeah, sure, why not.
*Kyrgios 4-5 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
Kyrgios hits a powerful crosscourt forehand winner on one return to pick up a point. The rest is Khachanov’s.
Each player has won a total of four points on his opponents’ serve, according to the US Open stats feed.
Kyrgios 4-4 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
Smash, service winner, ace, unforced error, ace. These guys are playing like they know I have to wake up early tomorrow.
*Kyrgios 3-4 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
A 15-shot rally ends with Kyrgios hitting long, and now he really is flexing that calf muscle. He played a two-hour doubles match yesterday, so this might be something to watch.
Two aces and another devastating serve give Khachanov the game.
If it seems like I’m writing much shorter updates in this match than I was in the Gauff-Garcia match, it’s because these games are flying by. We’re 18 minutes in, and we’ve already finished seven games.
Kyrgios 3-3 Khachanov* (* – denotes next server)
It seems Kyrgios is giving himself a little calf massage to loosen up, but two winners and two aces should ease any concern that anything’s bothering him.
*Kyrgios 2-3 Khachanov (* – denotes next server)
Kyrgios requests a review of a Hawk-Eye line call, which I did not know was a thing. The powers that be duly show the shot, and it didn’t even touch the baseline, landing a few inches in. Kyrgios puts up his hands and nods, accepting the verdict. He hits one winner in the game, but Khachanov hits three, and Kyrgios ends it with a half-hearted backhand that hits the net.
It’s early, but I’m not really seeing Kyrgios’ best right now.