Like many of his best matches before, Nick Kyrgios’ pulsating win over Karen Khachanov was a bit of a rollercoaster.
Rollercoasters are fun though, and luckily for fans of Krygios, Saturday night’s ride didn’t go off the rails.
It looked like it might on more than one occasion, but Kyrgios once again showed off a previously unseen ability not to let setbacks rattle him against Khachanov.
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There were times when Kyrgios had genuine cause to be annoyed, specifically when he was robbed of a point for taking too long between points after cutting his finger, and trying to avoid having the ball-boy touch a bloodstained towel.
So when Khachanov called for time to clean up some bird droppings which had landed just inside the baseline with the match delicately poised early in the fifth set, all eyes were on the volatile Australian.
Famously grouchy when it comes to being help up between points and games, Kyrgios stunned the crowd by grabbing a towel from his kit, giving it to Khachanov to clean up the mess.
On commentary for Channel 9, Jim Courier said it was a smart tactic from Kyrgios to break the tension of the moment and help him focus.
“He is going to come over here and take care of business,” Courier said.
The American expert compared the moment to when Kyrgios jokingly offered Stefanos Tsitsipas one of his shoes during last year’s Washington Open, after the Greek star’s shoelaces continually failed him.
“The spell that Nick was under — he was angry and it just relaxed him and I am wondering if we might see a similar scenario from Nick after that gesture with the towel,” Courier continued.
“Nick would go on to win that match and win the tournament by the way.”
Kyrgios admits to losing focus mid-match
An introspective Nick Kyrgios said after the match that he had been at risk of losing the plot at various points in the marathon match, particularly after giving away match points in the third and fourth sets.
The Canberra-born star overcame them though, despite berating his support group at times throughout the match.
““I’ve got no words to how I’m feeling right now,” he said on-court after the win.
“None of that would have happened without my team, that’s for sure. They supported me the whole time. Like, you guys are unbelievable again.
“I was losing it mentally a little bit.
“It wasn’t easy losing the third and losing the fourth after having match points. But my team, my support team, you guys willed me over the line. I thought I was going to lose, honestly.”