The first meeting between Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas lived up to the hype on Saturday as the Australian saved a match point in a wildly entertaining 6-4 3-6 7-6(7) win to reach the Citi Open final.
The big-serving Australian will face Daniil Medvedev for the trophy on Sunday after the Russian cruised to a 6-2 6-2 win over Peter Gojowczyk in the late match.
The mercurial Kyrgios put on a show for the sold-out crowd, fist bumping with fans during the first set, smashing his racket in the second and mixing in tweeners, underhand serves and slick no-look volleys throughout.
Kyrgios appeared in control when he raced out to a 5-1 lead in the third set tiebreaker with a blistering cross-court forehand but Tsitsipas battled back to get to a match point.
The young Greek’s backhand return sailed long, however, and when Kyrgios earned a match point of his own he consulted with a fan prior to his serve for the second night in a row.
The spectator appeared to advise him to aim for the top seed’s backhand and Kyrgios did just that.
Tsitsipas could only block the rocket back, setting up an easy forehand winner that ended the match on a hot and humid night in the U.S. capital.
“I just go there and I ask them where they want me to serve. And it’s two-for-two,” Kyrgios said.
The match statistics were remarkably even, with Kyrgios winning 91 points to Tsitsipas’ 90 and each player breaking the other’s serve twice.
“In the first set I was playing pretty clinical tennis, playing really well,” he said. “I obviously went a bit nuts (in the second) and somehow was able to pull in back in the third set.”
Kyrgios had nothing but kind words for his doubles partner Tsitsipas, who will reach a career high of world number five on Monday.
“He’s the perfect example for any tennis player,” Kyrgios said. “His consistency shows every week. He’s doing all the right things and he’s going to have an amazing career.”
Third-seeded Medvedev put on a serving clinic to quickly dispatch lucky loser Gojowczyk in their semi-final meeting.
The 23-year-old from Moscow will be look to even scores in the final with Kyrgios, who defeated him in three sets in their only previous meeting at the Italian Open in May.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by Nick Mulvenney and Sudipto Ganguly)