Khachanov reaches first major semifinal with win over Kyrgios
  | By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo Credit: Garrett Ellwood/USTA

 

For the first time in history, a Norwegian man is into the semifinals of the U.S. Open.

Fifth-seeded Casper Ruud became the first from his nation to reach the final four in Queens after holding off a late surge from Italy’s Matteo Berrettini to win 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(4) on Tuesday afternoon. 

“The first two sets went much better than I was expecting, if I can put it this way. Everything sort of went my favor. I was hitting all the spots, all the shots that I needed to,” said Ruud. “But I think the conditions were a little bit in my favor with the humidity and the roof closed. It made the ball or the court feel a little bit slower. I felt like I had more time than usual when I play against him. It was a little bit of an advantage for me.”

As the rain fell hard onto the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof, so did the winners off of Ruud’s racquet throughout the first two sets. He used his impeccable shotmaking to race out to a 5-0 lead in the opening set, and then broke Berrettini early in the second set to seize control of the match. Despite Berrettini earning one of the breaks back in that second set, Ruud would ultimately serve out the set.

Berrettini gained his footing in the match in the third set as was able to use his blistering forehand to move Ruud around. He broke early and had a chance to serve for the set at 5-3, but was broken by Ruud, who carried that momentum into the tiebreaker to seal the match in straight sets. 

“In the third set I was also a little bit fortunate to save some set points and come back and win it in the tiebreak,” Ruud added. “But very happy to win in three straight sets. I’ll have two days off before Friday’s semifinal.”

Ruud will next play Russia’s Karen Khachanov who overcame Nick Kyrgios in a thrilling five-set match in the second Night Session match on Tuesday. Khachanov held off the recent Wimbledon finalist with a 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-4.

“From the beginning till the end, great performance,” said Khachanov. “From my side, I stayed there. I waited for my chances. I created them, as well. I’m super happy, super proud that I could finish the match, I could take it. Serving for the match, never easy. Just super happy to take this step forward to make my first semifinal.”

Khachanov’s stoic nature contrasted the brash style of Kyrgios to create an intriguing showdown on Tuesday night. Both players found easy access to holds of serve through the first 11 games of the opening set, until Kyrgios slipped up at 5-6, coughing up the break point as Khachanov claimed the first. 

Kyrgios came out more aggressive in the second set, breaking early and riding that break to the second set victory and evening the match. The third set was similar to the opener, and when Kyrgios failed to capitalize on a couple of break chances at 4-4, Khachanov secured the key break, once again at 5-6, to move back in front. 

After Kyrgios outplayed Khachanov in the fourth-set tiebreak, the Russian quickly snatched back momentum by breaking early in the deciding fifth set and never looking back. 


Karen Khachanov is into the first major semifinal of his career after defeating Nick Kyrgios on Tuesday night. (Photo Credit: Simon Bruty/USTA)

“I had some opportunities in the fourth set. He played an amazing tiebreak,” said Khachanov. “What can I do? I had to stay focused and try to win the next set. I’m really proud of myself. I was really focused from the beginning to the end, and I got the win.”

Khachanov is now into the first major semifinal of his career, with Ruud standing in the way of reaching his first major final. The two have played once before on tour, a three-set Ruud victory in Rome back in 2020.