Pro model Nick Kyrgios shocks again with a polite and efficient win | Wimbledon 2022

JJust when you think you know someone, they go out and let you down. On a balmy afternoon before a loving, even – whispers – tacitly adoring audience on Center Court, Nick Kyrgios affirmed his own spirited nature, his fundamental inconsistency, by remaining controlled, sternly polite and an all-round modeling pro and a steadfast bloke Fourth-round win over Brandon Nakashima.

In the win, Kyrgios was effusively polite to his 20-year-old opponent. He paid tribute to his girlfriend (“the best friend in the world”), referred to his many friends in tennis and shared his many excellent conversations “Andy”. He even brushed off a question about the Air Jordans he might have been wearing to go onto the court with a wink and the words, “You carry on champion.”

And sometimes it was hard to know what exactly drama-hungry global media should do with it? What’s the line here? Is Kyrgios killing tennis by being too boring and efficient? Does he need to loosen up a bit? In the event that Kyrgios won this slow five-set match with some reserve, he went 5-1 ahead as he upped his level in the final set. He now meets Cristian Garín in the quarterfinals.

There were still some difficult moments as the impressive Nakashima won the first and fourth sets. Sometimes Kyrgios rubbed his upper arm. He cut down about 77 mph as if uncomfortable. Eventually his hat turned blue: not, as it turned out, someone else blatant provocation, but the result of some dye coming out of his racquet handle. Blue Cap tennis racket unrepentant. Cap maniac breaks rules. no No, it just won’t stretch.

Instead, this was something else, an unexpectedly solid, controlled, understated win. In the end, Kyrgios cooed and gurgled as he ran through the higher registers, reeling off smooth shots, bravura forehand drives, and then ended the match by slapping the crowd, as if to say, aren’t you (quietly and politely) entertained?

There’s a lot more satisfaction in watching Good Nick, of course. For the tennis connoisseurs, the tennis badger set, the excitement surrounding Kyrgios can be a source of annoyance. Kyrgios is said to be a tennis genius for people who know nothing about tennis. This is show, theatre, easily accessible theatricality. On Monday morning, national radio even hailed Kyrgios as the ‘master of mind games’, an excellent case in which he missed the point entirely.

Nick Kyrgios plays a forehand shot in his win over Brandon Nakashima
Nick Kyrgios’ forehand is a powerful weapon against Brandon Nakashima. Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Masters of Mind games tend to win things. Rafael Nadal, for example, winning slams while people talk about how nice he is. This is mastery. Kyrgios is number 40 in the world, mainly because he has to play every game with Kyrgios on the pitch to deal with this circus every time because it’s his circus.

Instead, the story with Kyrgios is about talent and how to find your limits, how to make it work in the brightest light. Even that fourth-round tie had looked awkward from a certain angle. Nakashima is still only 20, has never won a title, has never been above No. 54 in the world. Kyrgios should really, really win this.

And Center Court was full. Even the royal box was full – Kyrgios is not just cashier; he’s Royal Box Office, with a real sense of event glam around the place when Kyrgios and Nakashima showed up.

At times, Kyrgios seemed to be on standby in that first set. There were second-serve aces and flipped forhands two feet above the baseline. The first arm impact came after 10 minutes. And for a while, both men raced through each other in a series of two- and three-minute games, with Kyrgios unrolling his serves like a man shotgunning a can of Pringles.

He’s such an easygoing, stooped figure with a cool gait, a man who’s in his own head even in the middle of the rally, always Judd Nelson at the Breakfast Club. But here he met an opponent who never lowered his level and took his chance at the score of 4-5 when Kyrgios suddenly broke apart, playing French cricket, hitting his forehand long and chasing the match.

In these moments, Kyrgios drifts. His footwork decreases, his shots lose power. tennis It’s about endless repetition, endless will, the appetite to do the same thing over and over again with the same intensity. The games are long. Does Kyrgios really have that basic level of obsession? Does he believe it? The best thing about his game here was the way he picked it up when it mattered. The third set was won by an extremely competent tiebreak.

Nakashima finished fourth. But Kyrgios charged back, going 4-1 with a forehand drive that burned a hole in the earth’s crust (his shoulder seemed fine at the time) and spinning for the first time and roaring to his box.

There was even a glimpse of the old edge when Kyrgios was asked to summarize his own progress. “I’m here in a Wimbledon Quarterfinals,” he said with a big smile. “And all I know is that there are so many people who are so upset. That’s a good feeling.”

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