Suddenly consistent Kyrgios moves into Citi Open final

Aug 6, 2022, 6:47 AM | Updated: Aug 7, 2022, 3:11 am
Nick Kyrgios, of Australia, hits a return to Mikael Ymer, of Sweden, during a semifinal at the Citi...

Nick Kyrgios, of Australia, hits a return to Mikael Ymer, of Sweden, during a semifinal at the Citi Open tennis tournament Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nick Kyrgios found the consistency that has long eluded him, reaching a second consecutive tournament final for the first time in his career with a 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory over Mikael Ymer at the Citi Open on Saturday night.

Kyrgios, the runner-up at Wimbledon to Novak Djokovic, has adjusted well to the hot, humid conditions at this hard-court U.S. Open tuneup. He won an uncharacteristic 24-shot rally on Ymer’s serve to go ahead 5-4 in the first-set tiebreak and served it out from there.

In the second set, Krygios secured the only service break of the match on a cross-court half-volley from no-man’s land to move ahead 5-3.

“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 semifinal and I’m just happy to be in the final once again.”

The 27-year-old Australian is No. 63 in the rankings but would move to 37th if he takes the title on Sunday. Kyrgios won at Washington in 2019, the most recent of his six ATP titles.

In the final, Kyrgios will face a surprising opponent in 96th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka, who ousted top-seeded and eighth-ranked Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-4.

Nishioka had not won a tour-level match since Miami in March, but knocked off Jenson Brooksby, Alex de Minaur, Karen Khachanov and Daniel Evans in Washington before frustrating Rublev. He won his lone ATP title at Shenzhen, China in 2018.

Kyrgios is 3-0 against Nishioka, most recently winning in 2019 in Washington.

“We’ve played many times, but he beat me every time since (we were) 16 years old. It is really tough to play against him,” Nishioka said.

Earlier Saturday in the women’s draw, Kaia Kanepi moved within one victory of her first title in nine years, overwhelming Daria Saville 6-3, 6-1.

Kanepi, a 37-year-old from Estonia, won the last of her four WTA titles in 2013 in Brussels. But she has enjoyed a resurgence this year, reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, and credits smart scheduling for her continued good form.

“It was amazing, actually, for me. I never thought I would make quarters in Australia. I thought it’s not just my place,” said Kanepi, who previously reached the quarterfinals in the other three Grand Slam tournaments. “But I played really well, and then I continued playing well. I actually didn’t put any pressure on myself to achieve something special.”

Kanepi’s match record this year is 19-10, her most victories since 2013, and she is ranked No. 37. She plans to play two more hard-court tournaments before the U.S. Open, which starts Aug. 29.

In the final, Kanepi will face 60th-ranked Liudmila Samsonova, who breezed past Xiyun Wang 6-1, 6-1. The 23-year-old Samsonova is seeking her second WTA singles title. She won a hard-court event at New Haven, Connecticut, in 2017.

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