Nick Kyrgios vs. Daniil Medvedev: The unlikely hero of the US Open final

Top seed Daniil Medvedev beaten by Nick Kyrgios at US Open Nick Kyrgios of Australia plays against Daniil Medvedev of Belarus at the US Open tennis championships in Flushing Meadows, New York. Andy Lyons/Getty…

Nick Kyrgios vs. Daniil Medvedev: The unlikely hero of the US Open final

Top seed Daniil Medvedev beaten by Nick Kyrgios at US Open

Nick Kyrgios of Australia plays against Daniil Medvedev of Belarus at the US Open tennis championships in Flushing Meadows, New York.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Nick Kyrgios of Australia is a great tennis player, but he’s not the best, and that made him the unlikely hero in Sunday’s US Open final against Daniil Medvedev of Belarus.

Kyrgios had never faced Medvedev before the final, and after three straight sets in the two-hour semifinal decider, he found himself down a set in the second, a little worried that he might not be able to compete with Medvedev’s power. But he hung in, keeping his calm and grinding away until the very end. He had come through a tough Wimbledon last year with a title, and in the months since he had made it back to the level he was at the time the 2014 Australian Open, which he lost to Dominic Thiem last year.

Here are the numbers: Kyrgios is ranked no. 19, Medvedev no. 22. Kyrgios is more versatile, and he can play the clay-court tennis that Medvedev plays on the other surfaces, but neither player is flashy in any way, and that’s one reason they were able to go back and forth in the final.

Medvedev made it look easy the entire match, and he was the one who put together the best match of his career in the final. That was the easy part, because Kyrgios’ problem was this: He was playing really well, and he found himself in a position that was difficult to overcome. After being down two sets and having served for the match on all five of his first five service games, Medvedev had nothing to lose, and he found himself in a position that he hadn’t been in before, where he had to come out and take every game.

Medvedev has played a lot of matches against the top men over the last two years, and he has had a lot of trouble against them. That’s why at the 2008 and 2012 Wimbledons he had

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