LIVE – Updated at 05:04
Game-by-game report: The in-form Nick Kyrgios made quick work of his good friend and compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis.
“When we both saw the draw, it was a nightmare,” Kyrgios says. He believes Kokkinakis would’ve beaten 80% of the field tonight and looks forward to being on the same side of the net in doubles. “We’re going to play each other, hopefully, never again.”
Kyrgios was watching Serena with his girlfriend. Now he wants to get some food and chill out.
I’ve had enough food for the day/night, but chilling out sounds good to me. Thanks for following along, and I’ll surely be back another time or two or three during the New York fortnight.
So Nick Kyrgios has defeated his doubles partner with little trouble, cruising through every one of his service games and doing just enough with his returns to take the win. No major behavioral issues this time, though he had some strange conversations with people in his box. Maybe he’ll explain in his postmatch interview now?
Nick Kyrgios defeats Thanasi Kokkinakis in straight sets
A serve-and-volley/smash brings up match point. 6-4 Kyrgios
Ace, and it’s over.
Kokkinakis gets to that serve, but it only takes a couple more shots for Kyrgios to pick up the point. We’re still on serve. 4-3 Kyrgios.
Kokkinakis takes some time bouncing the ball after a let. Getting nervous? His serve is good, though, and he rushes the net looking to put it away. Kyrgios lobs, but it’s just a hair too long. 4-4.
Finally, a mini-break. Kokkinakis misses his first serve, and the second leaves Kyrgios a relatively easy return. A short rally ensues, and Kokkinakis hits wide. 5-4 Kyrgios, and he can win by holding his two serves.
Superb return from Kyrgios leads to a nicely balanced rally, but Kyrgios puts one into the net. 2-2
Service winner. 3-2 Kokkinakis.
Kokkinakis can’t handle the serve. 3-3. The only rally we’ve had so far in this tiebreaker was on the fourth point.
Kokkinakis ace down the middle. 1-0
Kyrgios overpowers Kokkinakis on his serve. 1-1.
Repeat. 2-1 Kyrgios.
Kyrgios 6-3 6-4 6-6 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
Kyrgios tries a drop shot but finds the net. He responds with an ace and another serve that Kokkinakis simply can’t handle. And another serve that Kokkinakis can’t handle. And an ace … to the tiebreaker we go, and you’d think Kyrgios is heavily favored.
*Kyrgios 6-3 6-4 5-6 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
Kyrgios is having a lovely conversation with his coaches/mates, occasionally interrupted by the need to return a serve. He hits a lob in a bid to go up 15-30 but puts it wide. Kokkinakis easily wins the next point and finishes the game with an ace.
So if Kyrgios wins one more service game, we’re off to a tiebreaker.
Kyrgios 6-3 6-4 5-5 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
Easy winner at the net. 40-15.
Kokkinakis has won 11 out of 68 receiving points. That’s it.
*Kyrgios 6-3 6-4 4-5 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
Three straight aces, and now Kyrgios has to serve to stay in the set.
Kyrgios 6-3 6-4 4-4 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
Well, that was entertaining. Kyrgios hits a ball between his legs, and it’s set up for an easy Kokkinakis smash. He smashes it, all right – right into the net. Kyrgios wins the next three in the blink of an eye and holds at love.
Tons of pressure now on Kokkinakis to hold.
*Kyrgios 6-3 6-4 3-4 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
It appears the object of Kyrgios’ ire is his own coaching box, as he points out that it’s legal now to offer advice with certain constraints. But it’s other people who are talking, as the chair umpire has warned some courtside fans.
Kokkinakis makes this game difficult with a double fault that gets us to a rare deuce, but he slams a winner and forces Kyrgios into an error to wrap up the game.
Here’s Leylah Fernandez – now can someone explain the bit about the commonwealth and Bianca?
Kyrgios 6-3 6-4 3-3 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
From the inbox, Jack Eyer is irritated: “Disappointed Canuck here not even a passing shot about the belle of the ball last year. She’s off to a nice start nonetheless. Oh, I forgot the commonwealth thing and your belle Bianca.”
So let’s state for the record that 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez of Canada, the 14th seed, has defeated France’s Oceane Dodin 6-3, 6-4.
Meanwhile, Kyrgios holds at love.
*Kyrgios 6-3 6-4 2-3 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
Oh dear. Kokkinakis just looks like he’s giving up the ghost, with a succession of errors giving Kyrgios three break points. For the first time in the match, Kokkinakis saves one in a long rally. He survives the second as well.
Then a service winner brings it to deuce, and he follows with another. Maybe we gave up on him too soon?
Or not. Kokkinakis hits one very long.
Or yes. Kyrgios dinks one into the net.
And Kokkinakis finishes with an ace. So, yes, we gave up on him too soon.
Then for the first time tonight, we hear Men At Work’s Australian anthem Down Under. I saw Men At Work perform a couple of weeks ago. Quality show.
Kyrgios 6-3 6-4 2-2 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
A couple of wayward Kyrgios shots, and suddenly Kokkinakis is up 15-30. That’s the best he has stood in any of Kyrgios’ service games. Three serves later, Kyrgios holds. Two of them were simple serves-and-volleys – maybe not planned, but Kokkinakis’ returns didn’t go very far, and another was a service winner.
From the inbox: Ian ES takes issue with the GOAT designation: “My perspective is that Margaret Court won more majors than Serena and is hence entitled to the GOAT nickname until/unless Serena surpasses her total. Look, I don’t like Margaret Court at all (her anti-gay and fundamentalist Christian views do not align with my value system) but she HAS won more majors. I am also aware that Serena would clearly win a face-to-face match, but don’t forget that Margaret Court was playing with a wooden racquet at a time when fitness training (especially for women) was in its infancy.”
Counterargument: Competition is much tougher today, in part because all the best players have the best racquets and the best fitness training. Court played well before the game took off globally, especially in Russia.
*Kyrgios 6-3 6-4 1-1 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
Kyrgios takes the first point and comes so close to making it 0-30 with a nifty drop shot, but it catches the net cord and falls back into his half of the court. Kokkinakis follows with his seventh and eighth aces of the match, and Kyrgios shanks one wide on the last point.
Kyrgios 6-3 6-4 1-1 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
Kyrgios wins the first point and follows with three service winners. Holds at love. Again. If Kokkinakis wasn’t serving reasonably well, this would be a rout.
*Kyrgios 6-3 6-4 0-1 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
Kyrgios took a quick break between sets and came back in a nice, dry shirt. The East Coast has been rather swampy in recent days, so players won’t need much effort to sweat.
Deuce! We have deuce! Not entirely sure, but I believe this is our first. Kyrgios won the first point, dropped the next three and then stayed in when Kokkinakis made a dreadful error. Kokkinakis was then unable to cope with a good Kyrgios return to bring the game level. But two good serves, the second one an ace, wrap up the game.
Here’s how the first set ended, not all that long ago:
Kyrgios 6-3 6-4 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
A blazing forehand winner from left to right closes out the game as Kyrgios holds at love. Kokkinakis barely contested any point, and the favorite is up two sets to none.
*Kyrgios 6-3 5-4 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
Kyrgios edges out to a 15-30 lead, but Kokkinakis evens things up. Then it’s the longest rally so far, a whopping 15 shots, ending with Kyrgios hitting just wide. Kokkinakis closes it out, but now Kyrgios will serve for a two-set lead.
The match is moving too quickly for me to check, but I can’t recall a game going to deuce. We’ve only had two break points, both earned and converted by Kyrgios.
Kyrgios 6-3 5-3 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
Once again, the receiver takes the first point – only the ninth receiving point Kokkinakis has won – and loses the rest.
*Kyrgios 6-3 4-3 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
A mirror image of the previous game, with Kyrgios taking the first point but flailing in his efforts to make effective returns the rest of the way.
We are still trucking along here. That’s good news for those of us whose bedtime has been affected by the pomp and circumstance around the Serena Williams match, which took a while in its own right.
Kyrgios 6-3 4-2 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
Kokkinakis outlasts Kyrgios to lead 0-15 – I won’t have time to go back and check, but that might be the first lead he has held in a Kyrgios service game. Kyrgios reasserts the natural order of the world with a forehand winner and a drop shot. He argues with the umpire about … something. Then he simply elicits two errors from Kokkinakis, and it’s another easy hold in the end.
*Kyrgios 6-3 3-2 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
Kyrgios seems mildly agitated. Hard to see why, other than perhaps some frustration with himself after an unforced error takes the game to 40-15. Easy hold for Kokkinakis.
Kyrgios 6-3 3-1 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
Another upset to report, this one in an all-American matchup: Brandon Holt, ranked 303rd, has knocked out 10th seed Taylor Fritz.
And in the time it has taken me to type that, Kyrgios has held at love, with three winners and an ace.
*Kyrgios 6-3 2-1 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
Kokkinakis also has a good serve. An ace and a service winner close it out as Kokkinakis holds at love.
We’re going so quickly here. That’s 41 minutes for 12 games.
Kyrgios 6-3 2-0 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
Kyrgios looks like he’s showing off now. He has all day to hit from the baseline, and he finesses a drop shot that clears the net by no more than a couple of inches. Kokkinakis’ attempt to return it goes under the net. The it’s ace, error, ace, and Kyrgios has just had no problems at all in his service games.
*Kyrgios 6-3 1-0 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
Kyrgios has dialed in his service returns now, and that may have rattled Kokkinakis, who double faults to give Kyrgios a triple break point. Kokkinakis’ next serve is good, but Kyrgios’ return is better, and Kyrgios is in control the rest of the way to break at love. He’s 2-for-2 on break points. Kokkinakis hasn’t come close to having one.
Kyrgios 6-3 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
Up 30-0, Kyrgios makes a curious decision, sending what should be an easy volley at the net up and well over the back line. He fares better on the next point, fending off Kokkinakis’ attempt to sneak the ball past him at the net. That’s two set points for Kyrgios, the first of which he squanders with a double fault.
But he ends the set in emphatic fashion, moving up to the net and being teed up for a shot that’s more of a spike than a smash. No mistake there.
Kyrgios 4-3 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
What does this match have in common with Pluto? There’s not much of an atmosphere.
You can’t blame the players. These points would be longer if these guys weren’t so powerful and precise. A few terrific returns, though, would get the energy level back up a bit.
*Kyrgios 3-3 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
Two aces in another routine hold. Kyrgios’ best chance was at 30-15, but what qualifies as a long rally in this match ends when a Kyrgios shot clips the net cord and continues out of play.
Kyrgios 3-2 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
We haven’t even played 15 minutes, and five games are in the books. Few rallies longer than a shot or two, no game going to deuce. Kyrgios closes out this one with an ace.
The match on Court 15 is in its fifth set and fourth hour, so you can hop over there if you like. But this one might be halfway done by the time you’ve finished changing streams. (Not that you need a stream when you have me painting the pictures here. It’s green, with a blue court)
*Kyrgios 2-2 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
Just when I’m about to say Kyrgios isn’t returning well, he puts one right at the feet of Kokkinakis to cut the lead to 40-30. But Kokkinakis fires a strong second serve that Kyrgios can’t handle, and that’s our game.
Spike Lee is still here. Good for him.
Kyrgios 2-1 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
If you like long rallies, find another match to watch. Kyrgios is simply firing them off rapidly here, and he’s up 40-0 right away. The 23rd seed decides to add a bit of entertainment with a quick underhanded serve, only to see Kokkinakis place a drop shot with enough sidespin to take the ball to Brooklyn. Or Long Island. I’m not sure which way they’re facing.
Anyway, Kyrgios hits a winner, and that’s another game down.
*Kyrgios 1-1 Kokkinakis (* denotes next server)
Kokkinakis sits uncomfortably at 30-30 but follows a solid serve with a nifty sliced drop shot that Kyrgios can’t get anywhere near. Then it’s an ace, and it’s 1-1.
Kyrgios 1-0 Kokkinakis* (* denotes next server)
Routine opener for Kyrgios, losing a point on a double fault but otherwise cruising.
The crowd is no longer awake.
Galan upsets Tsitsipas
Another long service game for the fourth seed, and this time, he can’t hold. Huge win for the Colombian.
Meanwhile, Kyrgios opens with an ace and a double fault.
Two more minutes before Kyrgios-Kokkinakis, and meanwhile, Galan has two more match points against Tsitsipas. And he’s missed them. If he can’t close this out, this will be a huge opportunity missed.
Kyrgios vs. Kokkinakis soon to start
The countrymen and doubles partners are taking the court. We’ll keep an eye on Tsitsipas-Galan, where Galan managed to hold a difficult service game and is now getting treatment for a leg wound, but our other three eyes will be on the Australians. (I wear glasses, so that’s four.)
Service winner for Tsitsipas, and he seems pleased.
If you’re tuning in for the all-Australian men’s first-round match, we will get to it. You haven’t missed anything. The Celebrity Roast of Serena Williams is still in progress, delayed a bit by the fact that Serena had to go out and win a tennis match first.
Deuce. Again. Clearly, this is all my fault.
But Tsitsipas wins the next two rallies, and it’s game on. Or would it be “match on”?
The fourth seed saved five match points. And now Galan has to regain his composure while the umpire reaches under her chair to grab some new tennis balls.
Boom boom, and Tsitsipas fends off the break points. But Galan approaches the net in the next point and plays brilliantly with a succession of volleys that wears down the great Greek.
Galan then literally takes a run at the upset, chasing down a drop shot and getting back up to run down another. He finally unleashes a lob that Tsitsipas, frozen at the net, can only watch, knowing his tournament is over if it lands in. It doesn’t.
Again, Galan earns a match point. Again, Tsitsipas fends it off. Then Galan dinks one into the net. And again, Tsitsipas has an unforced error, and it’s deuce.
Good crowd here, incidentally, even with the vortex of Serena Williams drawing the bulk of the interest.
Long-ish rally, and then Tsitsipas hits one far away. Fifth match point …
Let’s peek in on fourth-seeded Stefano Tsitsipas, who’s serving to stay in the match against the world’s 94th-ranked player, Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia.
Galan won the first 11 games and closed out the second set 6-1. Tsitsipas fought back to win the third.
But Tsitsipas is hitting wildly. And badly. Double match point …
In the first set, Danka Kovinić arguably defeated herself, getting rattled when a close call changed the momentum. In the second set, Serena Williams simply put it together.
The bad news for Serena is that she now faces the No. 2 player in the world, Anett Kontaveit of Estonia. Second Set Serena needs to show up in that one, because First Set Serena made too many mistakes.
But if the GOAT wins that one, then do we start talking about a possible 24th major?
Up next: Australian Nick Kyrgios vs. Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, a matchup that the ever-iconoclastic Kyrgios doesn’t seem to view as a must-win. I’ll be here for that one after the powers that be wrap up a pre-planned celebration of Serena’s career. Williams doesn’t actually seem that thrilled to be sitting on the court listening to speeches after a nerve-wracking win, but a few quips are making her smile.
Related: Homesick Nick Kyr