Nick Kyrgios has put together perhaps the most mature performance of his career, overcoming a nagging shoulder injury and a future star to book a ticket to the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
Despite coming into the match on the back of some hot form, the Australian did not have it all his own way against 20-year-old American Brandon Nakashima, and had to dig deep for a 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 win.
The match was a stark contrast to the fiery contest between Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round, with the Australian unusually subdued against an opponent who seemed hell-bent on not provoking him.
AS IT HAPPENED: Kyrgios books ticket to quarterfinals
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After taking a two-sets-to-one lead following a sensational performance in the third-set tiebreaker, Kyrgios looked on course to have a signature meltdown after Nakashima reeled off three straight games in a bizarre ending to the fourth set.
Down 5-3 and serving to stay alive, Kyrgios raced through his service game, playing a series of rash strokes that ultimately gave the set to the American and left Australian tennis great Todd Woodbridge baffled in the process.
“Why would you tank this game? Because that is exactly what this game is at the moment,” the nine-time Wimbledon doubles champ said on Nine’s coverage.
“He’s throwing this game to see what might happen at the start of the fifth. He needs to stay focused here, he’s lost his way.”
However, this isn’t the Kyrgios of old, and the 27-year-old showed his growth and ability to think through a game in a commanding fifth set and then in the post-match interview.
Kyrgios fights through the pain
“I’m just proud of the way I steadied the ship,” he said.
“You know he came firing in the fourth set, his level didn’t drop.
“My five-set record is pretty good. Honestly, that’s what I was thinking about.
“I’ve never lost a five-set match here. I was like, ‘I’ve been here before, I’ve done it before’, and I came through again.”
He was right. Kyrgios improved his record to 6-0 in five-setters at Wimbledon and 11-3 in five-setters across his career. All three losses have surprisingly come in his home grand slam.
If Kyrgios is successful in his quarter-final clash against Chile’s Cristian Garin, who stunned Alex de Minaur, the top-seeded Aussie in the men’s draw, he could potentially play a semi-final against Rafael Nadal, the man he famously ousted in 2014 en-route to his last quarter-final appearance at the All England Club.
Kyrgios admitted he’d expected to be facing de Minaur, who held a two-set lead when his match began on centre court.
The Aussie star said he had also drawn on the Nadal clash throughout this match.
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“I stepped out here against one of the greatest of all time and beat Nadal, so these are all things I had in the back of my mind,” he said.
“Obviously Brandon hasn’t played on this court that much. I think that was his first time, so you know all these experiences that I’ve had, I think that’s what got me over the line.”
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