Fearing no one, Nick Kyrgios knows he has the game to shatter Daniil Medvedev’s title defence and blow the US Open draw wide open.
Kyrgios dispatched American wildcard JJ Wolf 6-4 6-2 6-3 on Friday night to set up a colossal fourth-round contest with Medvedev, the world No.1 and warm favourite to become the first back-to-back champion in New York since Roger Federer won his fifth straight US Open in 2008.
Australia’s Wimbledon runner-up holds a 3-1 head-to-head advantage over the Russian and won the pair’s most recent meeting in Montreal just three weeks ago.
“Medvedev, there’s no shame in losing to a player like that but I definitely feel like the way I’m playing, the game plan and the success I had against him obviously in Montreal. I definitely feel like I have a fighting chance,” Kyrgios said.
“Not many players can say that right now. Going in to play Medvedev at the US Open, they’re going to go out there, but I don’t think they’re down the other end of the court knowing they’re going to win.
“I feel like I’m definitely one of the players that has a chance, with the way I’m playing right now.”
Kyrgios’s only defeat to Medvedev came at this year’s Australian Open in January. Significantly, it was also their only best-of-five-set battle.
But Kyrgios takes more stock in his recent triumph over the Russian than his loss in Melbourne.
“When I played him in Australian Open, I had victories against him but they were like years before,” said the 27-year-old Canberran.
“The Australian Open, I felt like my level wasn’t there. I played the wrong way. He was just in his prime.
“I still took a set there. I was just nowhere near the player I am now, that’s for sure.
“But I feel like having success against someone weeks before, then playing them again, for sure it’s in his mind. For sure it’s in my mind. We put that behind us.
“We’ve got major respect for each other. I’ve got major respect for his coach as well. He’s a great guy. Been really nice to me.
“Look, I think it’s going to be a fun battle.”
While he’ll be centre stage against Medvedev on Sunday (Monday AEST), Kyrgios had to play second fiddle for once to compatriot and former girlfriend Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday night.
Kyrgios was ushered on to Louis Armstrong the same time as Tomljanovic arrived at Arthur Ashe Stadium to face retiring great Serena Williams.
Tomljanovic didn’t disappoint, though, ending Williams’ career with an emotion-charged 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 victory to, like Kyrgios, also reach the second week at Flushing Meadows for the first time.
A two-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist, Tomljanovic’s reward is a clash with red-hot Russian Lludmila Samsonova on Sunday for a place in the last eight in consecutive grand slams.
Kyrgios and Tomljanovic are Australia’s last two survivors in the singles draws after Alex de Minaur suffered a 6-1 6-1 3-6 7-6 (7-5) third-round loss to Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta.