After three years without a tour-level meeting, fans were treated to three installations of the Medvedev-Kyrgios rivalry in 2022. While Medvedev notched an impressive victory at the Australian Openit was Kyrgios who secured bragging rights for the season with a pair of hard-fought wins on North American hard courts, in Montreal and at the US Open.
At the end of a year in which Medvedev rose to World No. 1 for the first time and a rejuvenated Kyrgios put together some of the best results of his career, ATPTour.com looks back on how one of the Tour’s blockbuster rivalries played out in 2022.
Australian Open, Second Round, Medvedev d. Kyrgios 7-6(1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
The 2022 Grand Slam action was just four days old when Medvedev and Kyrgios collided in a heavyweight second-round clash at January’s Australian Open.
For the first half of the match it appeared that second-seeded Medvedev was on track to claim his first victory in three attempts against the Australian in style. His top-quality return game helped him claim the first two sets on Rod Laver Arena, but Kyrgios roused the home fans with some typically majestic shotmaking en route to the third.
“I thought the atmosphere was awesome,” Kyrgios later said. “That’s what sport is. You’ve got the most entertaining player playing in his home slam on Rod Laver. You’d expect the crowd to be like that.”
Daniil Medvedev” />
Photo Credit: William West/AFP via Getty Images
Those positive vibes could not carry Kyrgios to a famous comeback win, however, as Medvedev slammed the door shut on the Australian in clinical fashion by breaking twice in the fourth set to seal a two-hour, 58-minute win.
“I came to win this match and I am happy I managed to do it,” said Medvedev. “It was a funny match because we both served big. In the second and fourth sets I managed to return a little bit more at the crucial moments.”
Despite the defeat, Kyrgios was happy with how he had performed against eventual finalist Medvedev in just his second competitive match in four months.
“No matter how little I train or how much I play, I’ll always lift for matches like this,” said the Australian. “I’m not going to shy away from it… If I play 95 per cent of people tonight on that court, I think I win, to be honest with you.”
National Bank Open Presented by Rogers, Second Round, Kyrgios d. Medvedev 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-2
In contrast to the meeting in Melbourne, Kyrgios arrived at August’s National Bank Open Presented by Rogers in Montreal amid a red-hot run of form that had seen the Australian reach his maiden Grand Slam final at Wimbledon and lift his seventh ATP Tour crown in Washington.
That confidence was plain to see against World No. 1 and defending champion Medvedev in the second round in Canada, where the 27-year-old Australian remained unbroken throughout a two-hour encounter for his 14th win in 15 tour-level matches.
“This is the fourth meeting we’ve had, and I’ve had some success against him in the past,” said Kyrgios after the match. “But he’s beaten me before [as well]. I feel like we know each other’s games well. I’m not the type of player that goes into this match looking at rankings or anything like that, it’s just who I’m playing and what kind of ball they’re giving me.”
Kyrgios’ decision to frequently deploy serve-and-volley tactics against an opponent renowned for his deep positioning on return paid off in Montreal. The Australian won 67 per cent (32/48) of points at the net to claim his second win against a reigning World No. 1, after his 2014 Wimbledon win against Rafael Nadal.
“Today I had a very clean objective of how I was going to play, a lot of serve-and-volley, a lot of aggressive play from the back,” said Kyrgios. “I executed better than he did, that’s all it comes down to.”
“He was great. He was playing good,” reflected the defeated Medvedev. “He beat me fairly, if we can say [it] like this.”
US Open, Fourth Round, Kyrgios d. Medvedev 7-6(11), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Fewer than four weeks after his win in Montreal, Kyrgios ended another Medvedev title defense on North American hard courts with an impressive four-set victory at the US Open.
“I just thought I played the right way,” said Kyrgios, who fired 53 winners, including 21 aces, en route to a two-hour, 53-minute fourth-round win at Flushing Meadows. “I returned unbelievable today. Just thought the third and fourth sets were just so free.I was just having a lot of fun, embracing every moment out on Ashe today. [I am] really proud of that.”
Nick Kyrgios” />
Photo Credit: Sarah Bull/Getty Images
Kyrgios sealed his victory despite a bizarre third-set gaffe, later described by the Australian as “probably the most boneheaded play of all time”. At 1-0, 30/30 on Medvedev’s serve in the third set, Kyrgios ran round the net to intercept a high volley from the top seed that was clearly not going to make it to his side of the court.
“I thought it was legal to be honest. I genuinely thought it was legal,” Kyrgios said in an interview with ESPN. “I thought I was playing the concrete streets of my suburb in Canberra… You can see my face… I was so happy. I was like, ‘That’s the best shot ever’ and it wasn’t legal. But it was fun.”
A disappointed Medvedev was impressed with the level Kyrgios had shown as the Australian extended his lead in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series to 4-1.
“It was a high-level match,” said Medvedev, who lost his No. 1 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings as a result of the loss. “[I’ve] played Novak, Rafa. They all play amazing. Nick played today kind of their level, in my opinion.
“He has a little bit different game because he’s not like a grinder in a way. At the same time, he can rally. He’s tough to play. He has an amazing serve… He has every shot. It was a really high-level match from him.”