Nick Kyrgios first came on the Wimbledon scene back in 2014 and promptly took out Rafa Nadal in the fourth round with a brilliant display of serving and some outstanding tennis to leave an indelible mark on tennis fans.
Not bad for a part time player! Nick Kyrgios
Since then he has never gone past the quarter-final at Wimbledon and only matched that again once at a major, at his home event the following year.
Despite his talent which should have seen him at least pushing for grand slam titles, he has become an entertainer with his shot-making, showmanship and controversial statements and clashes with authorities.
Another more caring side of the Australian became public during the Australian wildfires and Covid onslaughts as he bunkered down in his Canberra home for 18-months to ride out the pandemic. During that time, he played just 15 matches but not once since February this year until Wimbledon.
And he has made quite a return, edging out the 21st seed, Ugo Humbert of France, the Halle champion, 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-1 9-7 in a first-round match suspended overnight at 3-all in the fifth to meet the local 11.00pm curfew.
“Not bad for a part-time player,” a smiling Kyrgios told the crowd at No. 1 Court, and when asked what he was going to do for the rest of the day, replied play video games with his girlfriend back at the hotel bubble.
Kyrgios was certainly happy with his performance as he interacted with the crowd by waving his racket asking, not only for more audible support, but in appreciation of his best shots.
He was also critical and quickly berated himself with cries of ‘rubbish’ when he got things wrong.
But he was delighted at being able to prove his doubters wrong when they learnt he intended to arrive at SW19 without any serious preparation.
“Look, a lot of people were telling me: There’s no chance. There’s no point in you going with that short preparation.’ I was hearing a load of things. Like ‘. there’s no chance you can come off the couch and compete at this level,’” the 26-year-old Aussie, who is currently ranked 60, explained.
“I’m like, ‘Dude, I know my game.’ I know how to play on grass. I’m not scared of anyone in the draw. I know if I believe and I’m feeling good mentally, like, I know what I’m capable of,” he added.
“I’ve been playing this sport since I was seven years old. … I’m going to serve big and play big and just compete.”
As far as he was concerned, this trip was a vacation although Humbert made him work hard for it!
He had beaten the Frenchman over five sets in Melbourne this year so he obviously knew he couldn’t treat him lightly but, in some instances, did, like hitting a ‘tweener’ on set point when it wasn’t necessary.
He did serve ‘big’ hitting 23 aces and showed patience during some lengthy baseline exchanges awaiting a mistake from his opponent as Humbert admitted: “When he’s playing good, he’s one of the best.”
The victory hadn’t been easy with Kyrgios ranting at the slowness of the courts the previous day and on the resumption, slipped falling badly at 6-6 but he managed to shrug off any discomfort to fight back against the Frenchman who twice came within two points of victory.
Kyrgios hung on finally breaking Humbert to go into an 8-7 lead, and after staving off two break points, sent down an unreturnable serve to close out the match after three hours and 26-minutes of actual play.
The crowd gave him a standing ovation and during his on-court interview, he acknowledged them.
“I heard there was going to be some crowd, I love playing here, so it was an easy decision for me.”
The Kyrgios revealed he had gorged himself on food prior to the match starting.
“It was tough,” he said. “It started raining yesterday and I thought it was going to get cancelled and I smashed so much food.
“I came out here and thats why I had a slow start I think.”
On resumption, he said: “I was in so much pain this morning physically. It’s been a while since I played so I honestly just rolled into bed last night, got some sleep and at it again.
“It’s very easy to get up for it with a full crowd out here, it’s so much fun.”
And the fans love him for it.