Wimbledon: Kyrgios Serves A Reminder He’s Still Pretty Good

Nick Kyrgios (photo: Wimbledon video)

WIMBLEDON/WASHINGTON, June 30, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

When Nick Kyrgios puts his mind to it – and shuts out the demons and distractions that has caused him to self-destruct so often on the court – he can be a pretty good tennis player.

Pumped up and ready go on a sunny but at times chilly Day Four at the Wimbledon Championships, the 27-year-old, mercurial Australian put on a serving masterclass on Court 12 lasting an hour and 25 minutes that even his opponent, Filip Krajinovic of Serbia, had to appreciate.

The World No. 40 Kyrgios, locked in and focused, defeated No. 31 Krajinovic, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, to reach the third round at Wimbledon for the sixth time in his eighth appearance.

In arguably his finest performance of the 2022 season, Kyrgios fired 24 aces and won 93 percent (37 of 40) of his first-serve points to advance in just 85 minutes. He outpointed Krajinovic 91-53.

The victory lifted Kyrgios, who was a quarterfinalist in his Wimbledon debut in 2014, into the next round against fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who eliminated 76th-ranked Australian Jordan Thompson, 6-2, 6-3, 7-5, on No. 1 Court. Kyrgios leads the head-to-head against Tsitsipas 3-1.

“I want to remind people that I’m pretty good,” Kyrgios said in a deadpan tone of voice, during his on-court interview. It drew loud applause from the crowd. “This is the tournament I circle on my calendar, which I look forward to all year. It’s the Grand Slam where I have the best opportunity.”

After needing five sets to advance past Great Britain’s Paul Jubb on Tuesday, Kyrgios took command early and never let up against the 30-year-old Krajinovic, who was a finalist earlier this month at Queen’s Club. Meanwhile, Kyrgios arrived at Wimbledon after advancing to back-to-back semifinals in Stuttgart and Halle. He hit 50 winners against Krajinovic, made just 10 unforced errors, and improved to 18-6 with his second-round victory.

“Getting over the line in that first round was massive,” Kyrgios said. “I have been playing some really good tennis in the past month, so I was really surprised with the way I played the other day. It wasn’t great. But there were a lot of positives. I didn’t play anywhere near my best but got through it.

“Today, I was in my zone, great body language, just played well. I just wanted to remind everyone that I am pretty good.”

Tsitsipas: Pushed by love from British crowd

World No. 5 and fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece struck 29 winners and broke his Australian opponent, No. 76 Jordan Thompson, six times en route to a 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 victory in two hours and four minutes on No. 1 Court. The victory, coming just a week after Tsitsipas won a grass-court title in Mallorca, improved his win-loss record on grass this year to 8-2. He has amassed a Tour-leading 42 victories in 2022.

“It was a great match today,” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview under a closed roof. “I got the crowd involve and even though I am not a Brit, I really felt the love from the crowd and that pushed me.

“Last year was a completely different story [compared] to this year. I wasn’t really that involved with [my movement] behind the ball. It is great to see that evolution this year. I feel grass suits my game perfectly. I am happy when I see the level of tennis I played today. As long as everything works, I am happy to see where that will lead me.”

Tsitsipas will go for his second straight win against Kyrgios in Saturday’s third round. He beat him in Halle earlier this month.

“I feel there isn’t a single person here who doesn’t know Nick,” Tsitsipas added. “We have played each other and had great matches against each other in many tour-level matches. I have great respect for his game, that he can utilize his talents. Really fight when he really wants to. It is going to be a challenging one on grass. He is a big opponent on this surface.”

Kvitova and Badosa: A past champion and a champion in the making

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and No. 4 seed Paula Badosa of Spain set up a third-round meeting after each won their second-round matches in straight sets – both against Romanian opponents.

The No. 25 seed Kvitova, a Wimbledon champion in 2011 and again in 2014, held off No. 111 Ana Bodgan to win 6-1, 7-6 (5) in an hour and 45 minutes, while the World No. 4 Badosa beat No. 122 Irina Bara, 6-3, 6-2, who was making her Wimbledon debut this week. The Spaniard is yet to drop a set in her first two matches.

After winning the Eastbourne grass title last week, Kvitova has won seven straight matches. Meanwhile, Badosa bowed in the opening round of Eastbourne to Great Britain’s Jodie Burrage after a calf injury forced her to retire in the third round at Roland Garros. However, Badosa has recovered nicely at Wimbledon and reached the third round for the second straight year. She has advanced to the third round or better in five of her last six majors.

Upon squandering a 5-1 lead in the second set, including a match point serving at 5-4, Kvitova found herself having to save two set points, which she did to get her match against Bogdan to a tie-break. From there, she took control to close out the victory. Kvitova finished with 40 winners – including 10 aces – that overcame 24 unforced errors. Bogdan countered with 18 winners and made just seven unforced errors.

“My thoughts?” Kvitova was asked during her on-court interview on No. 3 Court. “It’s mixed. I think it was a great match from the beginning until 5-1, 5-2. Suddenly, I felt, like, so exhausted from the games I had. I don’t know, it was just tough to describe. I got a little bit tighter and she just went for it a little bit more. She didn’t miss. It was really tough to close out.

“I really thought that probably [there] would be [a] third set, that I didn’t even make it for the tie-break. In the end, I did. I don’t know how. Probably my serve helped me for the set point over there. Yeah, I made it. I’m still very exhausted. I’m just glad that it’s done, for sure.”

As for Badosa, from 3-all in the second set, the 24-year-old Spaniard took control against Bara. She broke her opponent and won 15 of the last 18 points of the one-hour and 12-minute match that was played on No. 2 Court. Her sixth service ace captured match point on her first try. She finished with 22 winners to 20 unforced errors and outpointed Bara 62-39.

During her on-court interview, Badosa gave a shout out in both English and Spanish to acknowledge her world-wide fans – especially the ones from Spain, who were waving Spanish flags.

“I know I am seeing all the Spanish people,” she said. “I see the Spanish flag over there. Muchas gracias,” she said.

Earlier in the interview, Badosa acknowledged the special feeling of playing in Wimbledon and doing well. Last year, she reached the fourth round. Now, she’s a win from equaling her 2021 performance.

“It is a very special tournament. I think I played very aggressive and smart and I am very happy to be through to the third round,” she said.

Brit-watch: A day for Boulter and Broady to remember

• What a difference a year makes. Great Britain’s Katie Boulter has risen in the rankings 101 spots since last year’s Wimbledon. She currently hovers near the Top 100 at No. 118 – but not for long. Thursday afternoon on Centre Court, Boulter upset last year’s singles runner-up, No. 6 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, in just under two hours for her second straight win at Wimbledon this week that has raised her live ranking inside the Top 100 at No. 97. It built upon the Briton’s upset of Pliskova in Eastbourne nine days ago, which was the first Top-10 win of her career.

The 25-year-old Boulter, a native of Leicester, recovered from a set down, pulled out a second-set tie-break, then broke Pliskova at 4-all in the third set en route to a huge three-set upset victory. After converting her first match point, the partisan Centre Court crowd erupted in applause for Boulter, who is through to the third round at a Grand Slam for the first time in her eighth major. She hit 24 winners and withstood 13 aces from Pliskova.

• Great Britain’s Liam Broady, 28, beat No. 12 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina in five sets to reach the third round of a major for the first time. From down 0-3 in the fourth set, the 132nd-ranked wild card from Stockport recovered nicely and won 6-2, 4-6, 0-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1 in three hours and 47 minutes on No. 3 Court. On his seventh time in a main draw of a Grand Slam, Broady earned a career-best triumph and broke new ground.

“It was easy, wasn’t it?” Broady said in his on-court interview, beaming a wide grin at the appreciative crowd. “Sometimes, I struggle a little bit to put the ball in the court, but my heart’s always there.”

Next, Broady will take on No. 19 seed Alex de Minaur of Australia, who turned back the spirited effort of Great Britain’s 94th-ranked Jack Draper, 5-7, 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-3, on No. 1 Court.

Around the All England Club

• Women’s top seed Iga Swiatek defeated 138th-ranked lucky loser Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove of the Netherlands, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, on No. 1 Court to earn her 37th straight victory. The 21-year-old World No. 1 from Poland tied Hall of Fame great Martina Hingis (1997) for the longest winning streak since 1990. Next, Swiatek will face France’s Alizé Cornet in the third round. The 37th-ranked Cornet advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 75 Claire Liu of the United States.

• Two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal, this year’s No. 2 seed, was pushed to four sets by Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania before pulling out a 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory that lasted three hours and two minutes. The second-round match also included a delay of almost an hour due to rain, which forced the roof to be closed. Then, there was a further stoppage before play resumed early in the fourth set to dry out the edges of the Centre Court surface.

While the delay didn’t seem to bother the World No. 4 Nadal, it did prolong his day at the All England Club. By the conclusion, the Spaniard had served 13 aces and hit 35 winners to 39 unforced errors. He outpointed the 106th-ranked Berankis 131-115.

“Every day is a challenge, that’s the truth. All the opponents are difficult,” Nadal said in his on-court interview. “We are playing against the best players of the world and especially even in these conditions, it will be more [difficult]. I didn’t play much on grass for the past three years.

“Every day is an opportunity to improve and today I’m through, so that gives me the chance to keep going. [I am] very happy for that.”

Nadal’s serve was broken twice and for the second straight match he lost a set. However, the victory over Berankis improved his 2022 win-loss record to 32-3 as he continues to chase after his third major title of the year after winning the Australian Open and Roland Garros. Next, Nadal will oppose No. 27 seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy, who beat No. 66 Hugo Gaston of France, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-4, on Court 14. Sonego has reached the third round in all three Grand Slam events this year.

• No. 16 seed Simona Halep of Romania, the 2019 Wimbledon women’s champion, prevailed in her second-round match over Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens, 7-5, 6-4, on No. 2 Court. Halep came back from deficits in both sets to advance to the third round. The two shared an emotional hug at the net after it ended and Flipkens also laid down to kiss the grass.

The 36-year-old Flipkens, ranked 190th, was making her 50th and final Grand Slam singles appearance. She announced earlier this year that she would retire from singles after Wimbledon and continue playing doubles only. Previously, Flipkens was a 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist and she won the Wimbledon junior girls’ title in 2003.

After the match ended, the popular Flipkens was given the opportunity to address the crowd, which included Belgian Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters. There weren’t many dry eyes after she finished her speech.

“To be able to finish my career in singles against a champion like Simona, on a court like this, with a crowd like you guys … it’s a dream,” Flipkens said. “It’s a dream, seriously. When I came here for the first time, Kim Clijsters was actually here playing as a junior. I was like, ‘Wow!’ Once in my lifetime, I wanted to play there. … Wimbledon was on the top of my bucket list. It will always be so special for me. I’m really grateful and happy I could say goodbye here on this court, against this champion, with a crowd like you guys.”

• Among the seeded men advancing to the third round: No. 11 Taylor Fritz of the United States, No. 19 Alex de Minaur of Australia, No. 21 Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands, No. 27 Lorenzo Sonego of Italy and No. 29 Jenson Brooksby of the United States. The upsets include: No. 12 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina and No. 13 Denis Shapovalov of Canada.

• Among the seeded women reaching the third round: No. 8 Jessica Pegula of the United States, No. 11 Coco Gauff of the United States, No. 13 Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, No. 17 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, No. 20 Amanda Anisimova of the United States and No. 24 Elise Mertens of Belgium. The upsets include: No. 32 Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain.

• Men’s doubles No. 1 seeds Rajeev Ram of the United States and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain won their opening round match over Carlos Taberner of Spain and Daniel Altmaier of Germany, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6).

• Women’s doubles No. 1 seeds Elise Mertens of Belgium and Zhang Shuai of China advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Greet Minnen of Belgium and Anna Bondar of Hungary.

• Recent Mallorca finalist Roberto Bautista Agut became the third men’s seed to withdraw from Wimbledon due to COVID-19 on Thursday, following the earlier withdrawals of Marin Cilic and Matteo Berrettini.

The No. 17 seed Bautista Agut from Spain was scheduled to face Daniel Elahi Galan of Columbia. Instead, the 109th-ranked Elahi Galan received a walkover into the third round. Next, he will face No. 56 Brandon Nakashima of the United States, who upset No. 13 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada, one of last year’s semifinalists, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (6).

Thursday’s Wimbledon results

Friday’s Wimbledon order of play

By the numbers

Three-time reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic is through to the third round for the 13th straight year and 16th time in 17 appearances. His 23rd straight victory at the All England Club on Wednesday, against Thanasi Kokkinakis, set up a third-round match against fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, who is seeded 25th. Of the other 15 remaining players in the top half of the draw, only David Goffin of Belgium and John Isner of the United States have been past the fourth round.

“Quotable …”

“Honestly, it’s a dream come true for me. I’ve got hopefully many more matches to play and if I can have. You guys behind me for those, then hopefully I can go a long way. So,thank you very much.”

Katie Boulter of Great Britain, during her on-court interview following her Centre Court upset of No. 6 seed and last year’s runner-up Karolina Pliskova.