It wasn’t an epic victory for Nick Kyrgios but the fact that he has reached a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time and a Wimbledon one at that, is something he hinted had passed him by.
I never thought I’d be in a Grand Slam semi-final,. I thought that ship had sailed Nick Kyrgios
“I never thought I’d be in a Grand Slam semi-final,” he told the No.1 Court crowd during his on-court chat with Lee McKenzie. “I thought that ship had sailed – that I might have wasted that window. I didn’t go about things great early on in my career. It’s great to put on a performance here.
“I don’t have a coach – I would never put that burden on someone. But each and every one of my team plays an important role, although no one knows my tennis better than I do. I’ve been playing this sport since I was seven. I’m in a semi-final and I’m pretty happy.”
Kyrgios overcame a strong challenge from Cristian Garin, the Chilean bidding to become the first from his country to reach the semi-finals, 6-4 6-3 7-6(5) to become the first Australian male to reach the last four at The Championships, since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005, and readily acknowledged his opponent’s contribution to an entertaining match.
“Honestly I thought I was playing on the back foot a lot,” he said of Garin. “Hell of a tournament from him to make the quarter final. It could easily have been him standing here.”
It is also eight years since Kyrgios last appeared in the quarters as a very talented 19-year-old competing as a wildcard who then beat the world No1, Rafa Nadal, over four sets in the fourth round.
Now at 27 years of age and unseeded, he is two matches from possibly lifting his first Grand Slam singles trophy which was last won by an Australian (again that Lleyton Hewitt!) back in 2002.
That possibility is still a few days away but he can be proud of his current run which has had its ups and downs, so to speak.
With the very experienced James Keothavong in the chair ready for any altercations on court from the controversial Aussie who has during his career to date, amassed £700,000 worth of fines (source Daily Express) of which some £15,000 were levied against him for misdemeanours during his victories earlier in the Fortnight, there were no such ructions to adjudicate – just a slight misunderstanding on the last match point which was quickly settled,
He did well to keep himself in check throughout the match but there was always a sense, as he chuntered through, gesticulating and muttering, especially when Garin got ahead or he played a bad shot, that it wouldn’t take much to set him off.
Garin in the last eight was certainly one of the surprises of The Championships and he wasn’t there to make up the numbers. He quickly showed that he had a game and was quite comfortable on the green turf of the AELTC, by taking an early lead.
Kyrgios however, has one of those serves which players die for. Smooth, fast and dangerous and once he had warmed his serving arm up, he blasted his way into the match, levelling for 3-3 on his third break point, fended off two break points in the tenth game and then served out to love to pocket the opener.
He maintained the momentum in the second sweeping into a 4-1 lead and showed that his game was more than just a big serve and had variety.
Garin fought back and the third became very tense with memories of the Chilean pulling his previous match against another Aussie Alex De Miaur, around when two sets to love down.
Just one game saw break points and that was Garin who saved all three as he hung of for the tie-break.
There he surged ahead to lead 5-3 only for Kyrgios to respond with some aggressive play
Remarkably, Garin forged into a 5-3 lead to set himself up for another five-set recovery, but Kyrgios – despite having to replay match point at 6-5 up after an erroneous line call – took four points in a row to continue his best ever run at a major and a chance to stop Rafa Nadal in the semis who is on his own charge to a 23rd grand slam title.