Nick Kyrgios is, sportingly speaking, a “rare case.” He is talented and athletic like few others, competitive and loves to play tennis, but does not go out of his way for victories or titles. He seems to enjoy more when he puts on a good show than when he wins a match. And on top of that, while most of his colleagues usually suffer returns to competition after prolonged stops – even Roger Federer acknowledged that he is having a hard time recovering his game after two seasons of little activity -; he can spend months away from the circuit and then come back and show a great level, as he is doing at Wimbledon.
The Australian, 60th in the ranking, is playing in London just his third tournament since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in March last year, and the first since February. But without accusing the lack of rhythm, he got into the third round of the English Grand Slam this Thursday with a solid victory by 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 and 6-4 against the Italian Gianluca Mager (77th), in what was his third consecutive day of action.
Is that Kyrgios jumped onto the pitch on Tuesday to face the Frenchman in his debut Ugo Humbert, 25th in the world, recent champion in Halle and whom many pointed out as a player with great chances to surprise in the All England. With the match tied 3-3 in the fifth set, the match was suspended due to lack of light. On Wednesday, in the resumption, the oceanic took the last set to seal the victory 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-1 and 9-7. And just over 24 hours later, he defeated Mager, with 29 aces, 49 winners and just 11 unforced errors.
In the duel against the Italian, he did his thing, although in a good way. He interacted with the public, gave moments of great tennis, even encouraged himself to take off from below on occasion. And when it had to serve to close the game, He approached a spectator to ask what sector of the court he should direct his serve. He didn’t land an ace, but he still sealed the win at that point and dedicated it to the fanatic.
“I love to see that people come to my games assuming who I am and knowing that they will be able to witness a show. I have seen many people speaking to me at every point, they seemed like my coaches. It’s crazy. It gives me the feeling that people She is eager to have fun and they are excited to see tennis again. I felt the affection of the public and I think I have a lot to offer in this tournament, “he commented after the victory.
Kyrgios -who will now face the Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime– He had not played since February, when he lost in the third round of the Australian Open to Dominic Thiem. The previous week, he had reached the round of 16 in one of the ATP 250 that were played in Melbourne in preparation for the “big” ocean. Those two tournaments were, until this week, the only ones he had played since February 2020. But he assures that he did not miss the adrenaline of the tournaments and matches.
“I compete every day. When I play basketball, I Call of duty… In everything i do. My friends can confirm it. So I didn’t miss the competition, “he said.”But to be in this tournament, with these people in the stands. Right now I’m enjoying everything. I love Wimbledon, I even like the smell of the slopes. There was a time when I came here and I wasn’t even having fun, I was depressed, but I don’t push myself as much anymore, I just play the way I like to play. ”
What is your secret? “I don’t care what people think of me. At the beginning of my career, I was crucified for serving under, hitting between the legs or talking to the fans. There were people who accused me of dishonoring the game. Now I am happy with the way I compete. I look at myself in the mirror and I like what I see, “he said.
He added: “I am much more liberated than years ago. I gave up winning Grand Slams. I know that many people can be offended, but they must respect my choice and what I do with my life. What I want is to have fun and that my matches are a show. We can’t all be gods like Federer, Nadal or Djokovic. They inspire millions of people around the world, but there must be guys that a lot of people can relate to, who attract a lot of fans. I’m Nick Kyrgios, a normal guy and I’m happy to be who I am. “
Kyrgios will face Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime in the third round. Photo REUTERS / Jon Super
The Australian also affirmed that when the Big 3 finally passes the post, tennis is going to need players like him, “nonconformist types and that go against the tide, with different personalities, who make the games a spectacle and allow people to be willing to pay a ticket to see them live. ”
Kyrgios takes a different approach to sport. Some may describe it as irreverent and wrong, others as innovative. The truth is that it works for him. Because he arrived at Wimbledon with just two tournaments played in the last 17 months and on the London lawn he is playing at a good level, delighting the public, enjoying himself on the court and he has already advanced to the third round. Everywhere you look at it, a “rare case” in the world of tennis.