US Open - Day 9: Superb Garcia soars, Khachanov catches out Kyrgios

Memorable milestones punctuated an absorbing day and night in the Big Apple with the US Open silverware now in sight.

Caroline Garcia / Quarts de finale US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

It’s the City that never sleeps and the captivating conveyor belt of tennis at the 2022 US Open is certainly delivering scintillating contests around the clock.  

Day or night session, the major moments keep on happening in New York. Here is what you may have missed from Flushing Meadows.

Garcia gaining serious momentum

Fly with Caro is the trademark celebration and Caroline Garcia is soaring like never before.

The Frenchwoman dropped outside the Top 40 from 2018-21, but reinvigorated by a new coaching set up, has returned to the upper echelons of the sport this season. 

Embracing a braver and bolder brand of tennis, the former world No.4 has now won 30 of her past 34 matches since starting June with a title run on grass in Bad Homburg, Germany. The recent Cincinnati champion has transferred her hard court form to Flushing Meadows, advancing to her maiden major semi-final without dropping a set.

Up against the vocal crowd and American teenage prodigy Coco Gauff, Garcia extended her winning streak to 13 consecutive matches 6-3, 6-4, in a 97 minute exhibition of why many fancy the Frenchwoman for the title on Saturday.

“It was a very intense match. Every point, every game was really tough. The atmosphere was really American with a lot of energy out there,” stated the 28-year-old. I'm just super happy with the performance today, to manage the emotion in my game. I've been able to play my game, and that's very important for me.”

The 17th seed is just the third French woman to reach the final four in New York in the Open Era, joining Amelie Mauresmo and Mary Pierce.

“The path is very clear right now, which direction I have to go, under stress, under pressure. I'm just trying to follow this path. That's how we prepare with the team. We try to do the best we can in this direction,” continued Garcia, so assured in her game plan, which will need to be executed perfectly facing Ons Jabeur on Thursday. 

“We played semi-final I think in Roland-Garros in junior. Other tournament as well in juniors. She was always like playing, especially in junior, it was really rare to play someone doing so much dropshots, slicing in the backhand. She was really changing a lot the balls. It was really rare in the juniors. She was very tricky already to play. Now she's even more.

“She's in the top five in the world, made the final in Wimbledon. She has improve a lot. It's a great challenge.”

Caroline Garcia / Quarts de finale US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Jabeur, the first African woman in the Open Era to reach the US Open semi-finals, was magnificent, portraying that versatility and variety Garcia described to bring some work-of-art tennis to the court on Tuesday night.

The No.5 seed edged Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4, 7-6(4) to extend her finest run in New York.

“I was just trying to do my job and hopefully inspire more and more women from Africa. Really it means a lot to me”, Jabeur declared, after a 7-6(8), 6-2 victory against Garcia back in the 2019 US Open first round.

“Honestly I'm happy for her that she's back where she belongs. Also, she's working with Bertrand (Perret), that he was my coach before Issam. I'm just happy for them in general.

“I know she plays really aggressive, and a tough game. So whoever is going to be able to impose her game is going to be in better form. Hopefully it's going to be a great match for both of us.”

Khachanov quells Kyrgios

There was a full-blown battle royale to finish the night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Karen Khachanov has a new lucky number now, 23.

The 26-year-old is through to his first ever Grand Slam semi-final in his 23rd main draw, having taken down the No.23 seed.

Khachanov and Nick Kyrgios have history, the Australian prevailing in a rowdy five-setter at the 2020 Australian Open. This time Khachanov flipped the script against the Wimbledon finalist 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-4. 

“It was a crazy match. I was expecting it would be like this. I was ready to run, to fight, to play five sets. We played for almost four hours. That’s the only way to beat Nick, I think,” claimed the world No.31.

“It's like one more step forward. Also I had to face and to beat Nick, who is playing one of the best tennis again. I’m so, so, happy.”

A devastated Kyrgios described his opponent as a “warrior” and he’ll need to be in the possible final two matches, but Khachanov senses a chance for glory following the departure of 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal.

“Since he was out, I would say it was quite open for all the guys because everybody kind of see that there is opportunity to take the trophy,” added the 27th seed. “I would say maybe it even increased the level for everyone.”

Roll of honour inspiring Ruud run

The men’s draw is guaranteed to have three first-time major semi-finalists, as well as Casper Ruud.

The Roland-Garros finalist will take on the force of Khachanov for a spot in a second major final and for the chance to take over the No.1 ranking.

The Norwegian was flawless to lead Matteo Berrettini 6-1, 5-1, before completing a statement 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(4) passage past the Italian powerhouse.

“That was a better start than I've ever had before in a match. Everything was going my way, I was hitting my spots, and taking advantage of the chances I got,” said the world No.7.  “I got nervous at the end of the second set, things were just going too well. When that happens, you get too excited, and start thinking you can walk on water, so I had to calm down a bit.”

The 23-year-old certainly did and is taking extra inspiration from the US Open roll of honour.

“When you look at the Champions Wall in the locker room here, you see there are many different players who have won this tournament. This is a Grand Slam the last 18 or 19 years that had more winners than the rest of them,” explained the Norwegian talisman.

“I'm not sure why, but there is something special I guess with this place. It's sort of a city of dreams and I guess that's helping me with my game and my motivation.”

Casper Ruud / Quarts de finale US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Day 10 major moves

Another blockbuster line-up awaits on Wednesday. 2016 Karolina Pliskova is out of the limelight, but continues to accelerate towards to the silverware showdown. The Czech will compete in a firecracker quarter-final against No.6 seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Frances Tiafoe and Andrey Rublev became embroiled in a brilliant five-set duel last September at the US Open. Will Tiafoe come out on top again? 

World No.1 Iga Swiatek headlines the night session in an intriguing last eight encounter with American leading light Jessica Pegula. The top seed escaped from a set down against Jule Niemeier in the fourth round. Who will take charge on centre stage?

Finally, and what a finale, this blossoming rivalry between Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz closes proceedings. Alcaraz is the crowd favourite, human highlight reel. However, Sinner has claimed the honours in their past two clashes, posting a four set victory at Wimbledon before lifting the Umag trophy facing Alcaraz in July too. Feet up, settle in, it could be late night thriller once again.