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Kyrgios must ‘do better’ away from slams to get back where he belongs after falling to Medvedev

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Expert
20th January, 2022
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Nick Kyrgios called on the Australian government to “do better” in the wake of the Novak Djokoivc deportation debacle, the challenge for him is to do the same.

Kyrgios was knocked out of the Australian Open on Thursday night after a 7-6 6-4 4-6 6-2 loss to Russian world No.2 Daniil Medvedev.

There is no shame in losing to the highest-ranked remaining men’s player in the draw after Djokovic was eventually shown the exit ramp at Melbourne Airport on the eve of the tournament.

In his own unique way, Kyrgios went toe to toe with the US Open champion but in the end, Medvedev’s unrelentless high-percentage play was always going to conquer the Australian’s unbelievable flamboyance mixed with a few barely believably errors.

Kyrgios proved he is an elite talent, capable of giving the best a run for their money. He should be ranked in the top 20 at least. But the problem throughout much of Kyrgios’ eight years on the professional circuit has been his commitment to the lesser events.

Due mainly to the pandemic, the 26-year-old Canberran only competed in eight ATP Tour events in 2021. Hopefully there are fewer hurdles to international sportspeople this year and the tour can continue without too many interruptions.

Kyrgios not only needs to up the quantity of tournaments he competes in but drastically increase the quality of effort he puts in away from the four majors.

As it happened: Medvedev v Kyrgios

However he sources the motivation, he needs to realise that it’s so much easier going into a grand slam as a seeded player not the proverbial wild card who pops up anywhere and can face a quality opponent like Medvedev in the second round if the draw is unkind.

To be seeded he needs a higher ranking than his current 115 status – he hasn’t been in the top 50 since March and the last time he was seeded at a grand slam was at the 2020 Australian Open.

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He can’t get back in seeded territory unless he gives as much effort at a windswept tour event in one of the smaller cities rather than the bright lights of Melbourne Park, Roland Garros, Wimbledon or New York.

His effort could not be questioned for much of his clash with Medvedev.

In the first set, he dropped serve in his second attempt but after nearly going down a second break, he fought back to draw level at 4-4.

Kyrgioss, who pre-tournament build-up was interrupted by a bout of COVID-19, was facing break point again the next game but thundered down an unplayable serve, hit a backhand wide on game point before finally holding to take a 5-4 advantage.

Medvedev kept his cool to force a tie break and held firm while Kyrgios tried too many fancy options as the Russian took it out 7-1 to wrap up the first set in 62 minutes.

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The second set followed a similar tale – Medvedev rarely looked flustered on serve while Kyrgios scrapped his way to each game. He looked shot trailing 4-3 but despite gifting a point to his opponent with an innocuous underarm serve, Kyrgios again rallied to hold serve to a rousing roar from the Rod Laver Arena crowd.

Trailing 4-5 and 15-30, Kyrgios coughed up only his second double-fault to hand Medvedev two set points and after forfeiting the first opportunity when he pushed a volley long, the 25-year-old nominal second seed was handed the next one when Kyrgios did likewise with what should have been a routine backhand shot during a lengthy rally.

Two sets down and facing a near-insurmountable task, Kyrgios refused to yield in the third but still struggled to get a racquet on his opponent’s serves with Medvedev going past 20 aces.

In the seventh game Kyrgios gained double break point after a superb reflex winner – he then proceeded to do a victory lap around his half of the court, looked gassed for the next point and sent the return into the net.

But then he regrouped on the next point to fire a forehand down the line to go up a break at 4-3.

In the next game he chased down a lob with a sensational tweener return before wrapping up the seemingly unwinnable point on the way to a 5-3 buffer, sending the already revved-up crowd into raptures.

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In true Kyrgios fashion, he ended up icing the third set 6-4 with a drop shot which caught out an unsuspecting Medvedev, who sprinted forward to no avail.

Kyrgios blew a golden chance to continue his momentum in the fourth set when after reaching break point on Medvedev, he had his opponent at his mercy after a lengthy exchange but shanked what should have been the forehand winner wide.

The sixth game of the set proved decisive – Medvedev built a couple of break points and blasted the second one past Kyrgios down the line for a 4-2 lead.

Serving to stay in the match, Kyrgios was penalised the first point of the game for smashing his racquet and Medvedev showed no mercy to finish the Australian off in a tick under three hours.

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