Nick Kyrgios can dethrone Daniil Medvedev as US Open champion and world No. 1 in a blockbuster last-16 clash with the maverick Australian fired up by wanting to defy critics who “hate my game”.
Kyrgios proved his legion of doubters wrong by his barnstorming, controversy-laden run to the Wimbledon final in July where it took Novak Djokovic to stop him.
His performances at the All England Club only served to illustrate the dangers that the 27-year-old possesses.
Kyrgios boasts a winning record against four of the world’s top 10 — including 2-1 against Djokovic and 3-1 when facing Medvedev.
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Against world No. 2 Alexander Zverev, the Australian stands at 4-3 and is 4-1 over fifth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Greek star who accused him of being a “bully” and “evil” at Wimbledon.
Rafael Nadal, at 6-3, and Roger Federer, with a 6-1 winning record, have managed to rein in the Australian’s crowd-pleasing performances.
“I always carry this chip on my shoulder. I have it all in the back of my head when I’m playing,” Kyrgios said.
“I want to be there. I want to be on prime time. I want to be on that screen, the screen they’re all watching.”
Kyrgios defeated Medvedev in the US Open warm-up in Montreal last month after the Russian had knocked him out of the Australian Open in January.
Kyrgios’s progress to a maiden appearance in the last 16 at the US Open has been typically headline-making.
He accused fans of smoking marijuana which irritated his asthma in the opening round.
He was also fined $7500 after being slapped with a code violation for spitting and swearing in the match against France’s Benjamin Bonzi.
“I know a lot of people hate my game, the way I do things, they way I go about it,” Kyrgios said.
“I always thrive on it. I never want to forget all the things people say.”
Defeat for Medvedev on Sunday would mean he will lose his world No. 1 ranking after the US Open.
The 26-year-old Medvedev has made the semi-finals or better in the last three years at the US Open.
He admits that he has been “surprised” by Kyrgios’s rejuvenation as a player which has seen him return to the top 25 having been close to slipping out of the top 100 at the end of 2021.
“We are both quite electric. You never know what’s going to happen,” said Medvedev who has been untroubled so far at the tournament.
“I don’t think we are friends. When I say ‘friends’, we haven’t been to the bar together.
“I feel like we respect each other a lot. On the court also we never really had any fight or anything, which can change any moment.”