By HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Tennis Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nick Kyrgios hammed it up by delivering a repaired sneaker to his opponent, No. 1-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas. He celebrated one key shot with a shimmy. He marked the last point by shaking a fan's hand.
The Nick Kyrgios Experience was in full effect at the Citi Open on Saturday night — and he played well, too, hitting 19 aces, saving a match point and edging Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7) in a semifinal filled with all manner of memorable moments across its 2 hours, 7 minutes.
The 52nd-ranked Kyrgios will seek his sixth ATP title Sunday, when he faces No. 3 seed Daniil Medvedev or Peter Gojowczyk in the final.
That match will be hard-pressed to compete with Kyrgios vs. Tsitsipas, which had some fantastic shotmaking by both men, two creative players in their early 20s. The most GIF-worthy interlude came during a changeover early in the third set, when the shoe issues that have been plaguing Tsitsipas cropped up again, creating a comical scene.
Tsitsipas says friction from the way he slides on hard courts leads to problems with his sneakers' laces, which is why he has been changing footwear during matches. That bothered his quarterfinal foe, Benoit Paire, so much that Paire went and yanked off a shoe himself in a sort of protest.
This time, a ball boy brought a problematic shoe to Tsitsipas' father — who is also his coach — up in the stands for fixing. Kyrgios waited out the process by leaning on a screen at the back of the court, then decided to speed things along by getting that sneaker from Dad and carrying it across the court to Tsitsipas. Kyrgios presented it on bended knee, with head bowed, as if to say, "Here, my lord."
Kyrgios smiled. Tsitsipas gave him a thumbs-up. Spectators loved it all.
These two never had faced each other and, in the past, they've had their differences. But the duo played doubles together in Washington earlier in the week and apparently hit it off.
The concluding tiebreaker was a roller-coaster. Kyrgios led 5-1. Then Tsitsipas, who had his right thigh taped by a trainer after skidding to an awkward stop in the opening game, seized five consecutive points to lead 6-5 and hold a match point. Kyrgios erased that with a 132 mph service winner.
On Kyrgios' first match point of his own, at 7-6, he flubbed a slice forehand. On the second, he went and spoke to a front-row spectator, as though seeking advice, closed out the victory with a big serve followed by a forehand winner, then went back to shake the man's hand.
Love him or hate him — and there are plenty of people in each camp — Kyrgios is a showman, someone who does the sorts of things few, if any, other tennis players do, for better or for worse.
That was on display right from the get-go Saturday, when he won the second point with the help of a back-to-the-net, between-the-legs shot. Later, Kyrgios would lose no fewer than three other points by trying 'tweeners when a forehand would have sufficed.
He delighted the crowd with all of those aces, topping 140 mph repeatedly.
He also angered it by violently spiking his racket.
He claimed a point that began with an undearm serve.
He grabbed another by feigning a leaping, throw-everything-you've-got-into-it huge forehand and instead delivering a delicate-as-can-be drop shot, then smiling widely, pleased with himself.
Earlier, American teens Coco Gauff and Caty McNally won their first pro tournament as a doubles team by beating the fourth-seeded duo of Maria Sanchez and Fanny Stollar 6-2, 6-2.
"For both of us," Gauff said, "it means a lot."
McNally's impressive showing in Washington included a run to the semifinals in singles — but that's where it ended for her in that event Saturday with a 7-6 (5), 6-2 loss to Camila Giorgi of Italy.
In Sunday's final, Giorgi will face Jessica Pegula, whose parents own the NFL's Bills and NHL's Sabres.