Nick Kyrgios Wimbledon

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios celebrates winning against US Brandon Nakashima at the end of their round of 16 men’s singles tennis match on the eighth day of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 4, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

LONDON – Nick Kyrgios said a “lot of people will be upset” after he reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon with a thoroughly professional five-set win over Brandon Nakashima on Monday.

The 27-year-old Australian’s fiery third-round win over Stefanos Tsitsipas led to his opponent branding him a bully with an evil side as again Kyrgios’s antics polarised opinion.

Forty-eight hours later, however, Kyrgios was a model of maturity, barely uttering a word in anger as he shrugged off a stiff shoulder and not having his A-game to reach his third Grand Slam quarter-final with a 4-6 6-4 7-6(2) 3-6 6-2 win over Nakashima.

He was serene as he spoke to media afterward too, describing his satisfaction at overcoming the tenacious 20-year-old American without playing his best tennis.

The world number 40 will face Cristian Garin of Chile next, with the door to his first Grand Slam semi-final wide open.

Asked how he had shrugged off fierce criticism aimed his way by people such as former champion and fellow Australian Pat Cash in the wake of his toxic victory over Greek Tsitsipas, Kyrgios said he just laughed it off.

“It’s so funny. I joke around with my team about it so much. It’s hilarious,” Kyrgios, who will contest his first Wimbledon quarter-final since his debut in 2014, told reporters.

“I almost just wake up and read things, and I just laugh. And I never forget things, whether it was three, four years ago, things that just stick with me. I have a massive chip on my shoulder. Like I sit here now in quarter-finals Wimbledon again, and I just know there’s so many people that are so upset.”

While some will be disappointed to see him through, there is no doubt that when he is focused on his tennis, the mercurial Australian is extremely entertaining.

He struggled with his timing and shoulder against the impressive Nakashima and largely dispensed with his usual repertoire of exhibition shots. But the way he buckled down to business in an “absolute battle” offered a clue as to how much he would love to go all the way here.

“I wasn’t feeling the ball like I was against Tsitsipas or (Filip) Krajinovic,” he said. “I knew I had to keep my head down and just battle today. It was a good mental performance.”

Kyrgios admitted that in the past he might have lost Monday’s match, especially faced with shoulder pain that prevented him from serving at full tilt throughout.

“Mentally I feel like I just deal with these things a lot better now,” he said, praising the input of his team. “I stayed quite calm, knowing I wasn’t able to serve full-out for the whole five sets. Obviously, I had to take painkillers.

“I wasn’t returning well for a period of time, then I just stuck to my guns in the fifth set.”

Trailing 5-3 in the fourth set, Kyrgios virtually tanked the game and for a while it looked as though he might be about to unravel. But it was all a ruse, he said.

“Complete rope-a-dope tactic. I just threw away that service game. I knew he was in a rhythm,” he said.

“He was starting to get on top of me. I kind of just wanted to throw him off a little bit. It worked.”

A potential semi-final against Rafa Nadal is brewing, but Kyrgios said he was just “staying in the moment.”

“To sit here quarter-finals of Wimbledon, feeling good, feeling composed, feeling mature. I’m extremely blessed. I feel like I’m just comfortable in my own skin,” he said.


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