US Open - Day 7: Showtime for Kyrgios, Tomljanovic repeats heroics

The men’s world No.1 has been defeated and Serena Williams’ conqueror backed-up her historic triumph on a spectacular day in New York.

Nick Kyrgios / Huitièmes de finale US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Once again the 2022 US Open has delivered.

A plethora of players are building to a crescendo at Flushing Meadows, just at the right time. With quarter-final spots up for grabs, here is what you may have missed from the Big Apple.

Kyrgios “relieved” to change the narrative

Playing for his family Down Under, fighting for his travelling team, a motivated, fit, disciplined Nick Kyrgios is circling in on Grand Slam glory.

The supremely talented Australian sent out another signal of intent, unseating the defending champion and world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev 7-6(11), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 for a maiden move into the US Open last eight.

With the highest praise, over to Medvedev.  

“It was a high-level match. Played Novak (Djokovic), Rafa (Nadal). They all play amazing. Nick today played kind of their level, in my opinion,” stated the 26-year-old, who will lose top spot in the rankings.

“If he plays like this till end of the tournament, he has all the chances to win it.”

Kyrgios hailed “finally” for his New York progress during a scintillating season of redemption.

“I just don't feel like I've ever felt settled in New York, kind of get distracted very easily. I feel like I just haven't shown Flushing Meadows what I'm about really,” claimed Kyrgios, after dissolving three set points in spectacular fashion in the opener.

“I wanted to get on that court and show I am able to put my head down and play and win these big matches… People were really starting to doubt my ability to pull out matches like this at majors.”

The 27-year-old has spoken at length about digging himself out of a “scary” mental state, how his tight-knit team has provided the platform to bounce back. The Wimbledon finalist is now 35-9 during a stellar season.

Seven years without a Grand Slam quarter-final, now it’s two in a row, but the Australian has eyes on Sunday.

“I didn't over-celebrate. It's only fourth round. I got quarter-finals. It was an amazing experience obviously taking down the No.1 player in the world on Arthur Ashe Stadium,” added Kyrgios, proud to change perceptions.

“The motivation has been there… I was just really sick of letting people down. I feel like I'm making people proud now. I feel like there's not as much negative things being said about me. I just wanted to turn the narrative around almost. I guess I'm just more relieved. I'm super proud.”

The No.23 seed will go up against World No.31 Karen Khachanov on Tuesday, hoping to repeat the result from their five-set rollercoaster at the 2020 Australian Open.

Tomljanovic erases villain tag

Another Australian Ajla Tomljanovic felt like the “biggest villain in New York” last week, having started Serena Williams’ evolution away from tennis.

Well, the world No.46 dusted herself down and knocked out in-form Liudmila Samsonova 7-6(8), 6-1 to break new ground in New York.

“It feels really good to back up a win that I think got a lot of attention. Just felt like it's been a really big 48 hours. I didn't really feel like myself today the whole day,” reflected the 29-year-old. “I just felt a little bit drained. After that slow start, I just didn't want to go out like that. Picked myself up, fought back really hard.”

Samsonova, riding a wave of two titles and 13 straight wins in the American hard-court swing, soared 5-2 up, before Tomljanovic managed to erase eight set points in a “blur” to seize the initiative.

“I think my will to go further in this tournament was really strong and I didn't want to stop just after what happened on Friday night. I thought I deserved more,” added Tomljanovic. “I dug deep because I felt like I had more left in me.”

The two-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist, the first Australian woman to hit this stage since Sam Stosur a decade ago, has Tunisian trailblazer Ons Jabeur next.

Accustomed with re-writing history pretty much every week, the No.5 seed also bounced back from a 5-2 deficit in the first set to mark a first victory over Veronika Kudermetova 7-6(1), 6-4 at the fourth attempt.

Two immense competitors, Tomljanovic vs Jabeur will be a must watch!

Ons Jabeur / Huitièmes de finale US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Gauff and Garcia keep rolling

Capacity crowds were bursting towards Flushing Meadows to catch a glimpse of Serena’s farewell and it now seems Coco Gauff is more than ready to take over the prime-time billing.

The capacity crowds inside Arthur Ashe Stadium have been more than willing to transfer their ardent support to the teenage prodigy.

“It feels insane," exclaimed the level-headed Gauff. “Ashe Stadium chanting my name, I was trying not to smile on the changeover."

The world No.12 edged Zhang Shuai 7-5, 7-5 to extend her best showing at her home major where she’ll meet the scorching form of Caroline Garcia.

Gauff holds a 2-0 record versus the Cincinnati champion, most recently chalking up a 6-2, 7-6(3) triumph earlier this season in Doha.

“I'm super excited actually to play Coco in U.S., in New York, quarter-final of slam, it's great,” revealed former world No.4 Garcia. “She already has some experience with the final in Roland-Garros. She's a tough player, doing really good this year, very consistent, still very young, is a challenge, and I will get myself ready for it.”

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

Ruud and Berrettini survive

Casper Ruud still has a chance to finish the US Open top of the world rankings, having struck to magical around the post winners in a compelling clash with lucky loser Corentin Moutet.

The Norwegian kept the flamboyant Frenchman at bay 6-1, 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-2 to carve out another historic first for his country.

Ruud’s title credentials will be under the microscope in his US Open quarter-finals debut. The 23-year-old will meet Matteo Berrettini, the No.13 seed found a way in five sets past Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Ruud pips a 3-2 record with Berrettini, however, the Italian’s sledgehammer shots claimed their only hard court duel in straight sets at the 2020 US Open.

Day eight delight

Time to complete the quarter-final rosters in New York and there’s a strong American and Spanish flavour on the menu.

USA’s No.1 Jessica Pegula has a tough task up against two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova, which is followed by Rafael Nadal’s pursuit of a third major in 2022 continuing across the net from charismatic home charge Frances Tiafoe.

The night session will witness a rock n’ roll fourth found full of force between American Danielle Collins and No.6 seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Closing out the Arthur Ashe Stadium action is 2014 champion Marin Cilic seeking victory against the human highlight reel, Carlos Alcaraz.

World No.1 Iga Swaitek headlines the play on Louis Armstrong Stadium, with the Pole pitched against world No.108 Jule Niemeier. Swiatek is bidding to become first Polish woman to reach the US Open last eight and has never lost to a player outside the Top 100 at a major. Over to the German, a breakout Wimbledon quarter-finalist, to spring another surprise.