WASHINGTON (AP) — Nick Kyrgios has found the consistency that has long eluded him, reaching a second straight tournament final for the first time in his career with a 7-6(4), 6-3 win over Mikael Ymer at Citi Open on Saturday evening.
Novak Djokovic’s Wimbledon runner-up Kyrgios has adapted well to the hot and humid conditions of this hard-court US Open tune-up. He won an unusual 24-stroke rally on Ymer’s serve to go ahead 5-4 in the first-set tiebreaker and served from there.
In the second set, Krygios earned the game’s only break of serve on a cross half-volley from no man’s land to advance 5-3.
“He’s an amazing athlete and I really didn’t expect him to be that fast,” Kyrgios said. “Maybe next time I might have a few different tactics when I play him, maybe not try to rally him, maybe move forward a bit more. But it was a tough semi-final and I’m just happy to be in the final again.
The 27-year-old Australian is No. 63 in the standings but would drop to 37th if he wins the title on Sunday. Kyrgios won in Washington in 2019, the most recent of his six ATP titles.
In the final, Kyrgios will face a surprising opponent in 96th-seeded Yoshihito Nishioka, who ousted eighth-seeded Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-4.
Nishioka hadn’t won a tour-level match since Miami in March, but knocked out Jenson Brooksby, Alex de Minaur, Karen Khachanov and Daniel Evans in Washington before frustrating Rublev. He won his only ATP title in Shenzhen, China in 2018.
Kyrgios is 3-0 against Nishioka, his last win of 2019 at Washington.
“We’ve played many times, but he’s beaten me every time since (we were) 16. It’s really tough to play against him,” Nishioka said.
Earlier Saturday in the women’s draw, Kaia Kanepi moved within a win of her first title in nine years, thrashing Daria Saville 6-3, 6-1.
Kanepi, a 37-year-old Estonian, won the last of her four WTA titles in 2013 in Brussels. But she has enjoyed a resurgence this year, reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, and credits smart planning for her continued good form.
“It was amazing, actually, for me. I never thought I would make my home in Australia. I thought it wasn’t just my place,” said Kanepi, who had already reached the quarter-finals in the other three Grand Slams.” But I played very well and then I continued to play well. In fact, I didn’t put any pressure on myself to do anything special.
Kanepi’s match record this year is 19-10, her most wins since 2013, and she is ranked No. 37. She plans to play two more hard-court tournaments before the US Open, which begins on August 29.
In the final, Kanepi will face 60th-ranked Liudmila Samsonova, who beat Xiyun Wang 6-1, 6-1. Samsonova, 23, is looking for her second WTA singles title. She won a hard-court event in New Haven, Connecticut, in 2017.