Nick Kyrgios hammed it up by delivering a repaired shoe to his opponent, number one seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. He celebrated one key shot with a shimmy. He marked the last point by shaking a fan’s hand.
- Kyrgios won the second point of the match with a between-the-legs shot, before losing three more points in the same manner
- He shook hands with a man in the crowd who had told him where to serve on match point
- If he wins the final it will be his sixth ATP title
The Nick Kyrgios Experience was in full effect at the Washington Open on Sunday morning (AEST) — and he played well, too, hitting 19 aces, saving a match point and edging Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7) in a semi-final filled with all manner of memorable moments across its 2 hours, 7 minutes.
The 52nd-ranked Kyrgios will seek his sixth ATP title on Sunday when he faces number three seed Daniil Medvedev or Peter Gojowczyk in the final.
That match will be hard-pressed to compete with Kyrgios v Tsitsipas, which had some fantastic shot-making by both men, two creative players in their early 20s.
The most gif-worthy interlude came during a changeover early in the third set, when the shoe issues that have been plaguing Tsitsipas cropped up again, creating a comical scene.
Tsitsipas says friction from the way he slides on hard courts leads to problems with his sneakers’ laces, which is why he has been changing footwear during matches.
That bothered his quarterfinal foe, Benoit Paire, so much that Paire went and yanked off a shoe himself in a sort of protest.
This time, a ball boy brought a problematic shoe to Tsitsipas’s father — who is also his coach — up in the stands for fixing. Kyrgios waited out the process by leaning on a screen at the back of the court, then decided to speed things along by getting that sneaker from dad and carrying it across the court to Tsitsipas. Kyrgios presented it on bended knee, with head bowed, as if to say, “Here, my lord”.
Kyrgios smiled. Tsitsipas gave him a thumbs-up. Spectators loved it all.
These two had never faced each other and, in the past, they’ve had their differences. But the duo played doubles together in Washington earlier in the week and apparently hit it off.
The concluding tiebreaker was a rollercoaster. Kyrgios led 5-1. Then Tsitsipas, who had his right thigh taped by a trainer after skidding to an awkward stop in the opening game, seized five consecutive points to lead 6-5 and hold a match point. Kyrgios erased that with a 212kph service winner.
On Kyrgios’ first match point of his own, at 7-6, he flubbed a slice forehand. On the second, he went and spoke to a front-row spectator, as though seeking advice, closed out the victory with a big serve followed by a forehand winner, then went back to shake the man’s hand.
Love him or hate him — and there are plenty of people in each camp — Kyrgios is a showman, someone who does the sorts of things few, if any, other tennis players do, for better or worse.
That was on display right from the get-go on Sunday, when he won the second point with the help of a back-to-the-net, between-the-legs shot. Later, Kyrgios would lose no fewer than three other points by trying ‘tweeners when a forehand would have sufficed.
He delighted the crowd with all of those aces, topping 225kph repeatedly.
He also angered it by violently spiking his racket.
He claimed a point that began with an under-arm serve.
He grabbed another by feigning a leaping, throw-everything-you’ve-got-into-it huge forehand and instead delivering a delicate-as-can-be drop shot, then smiling widely, pleased with himself.