Wimbledon: Kyrgios Wins Chaotic Classic Over Tsitsipas

Nick Kyrgios (photo: Wimbledon video)

WIMBLEDON/WASHINGTON, July 3, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

When Nick Kyrgios converted his second match point against No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas during a fourth-set tiebreak of their third-round clash at the Wimbledon Championships Saturday evening, which gave him a hard-fought 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7) victory and advanced him to the round of 16, the match had reached it conclusion. But it was far from being truly over.

Kyrgios was never broken on serve en route to his fourth victory in five meetings against his rival. He and Tsitsipas combined to hit 118 winners – and there were many memorable moments during the 298 points played.

However, there’s more to it all than just what happened between the baselines on No. 1 Court during the three-hour, 17-minute tussle that was going on at the same time as No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal’s third-round match against No. 27 seed Lorenzo Sonego on nearby Centre Court, which the Spaniard won 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

Gamesmanship aside, there were volatile arguments between the inimitable and temperamental Kyrgios and chair umpire Damien Dumusois. There was more than a bit of complaining between the mercurial Aussie and the Greek star, and there were three code violations issued during the match – one against Kyrgios for mumbling an audible obscenity and two against Tsitsipas for ball abuse, earning him a point penalty. At the end of the second set, Tsitsipas flicked a ball into the No. 1 Court corner stands, which narrowly missed hitting a spectator. Kyrgios lashed out against the injustice, arguing that he thought Tsitsipas should have been defaulted for his conduct. The World No. 5 later apologized for the incident.

During his on-court interview, Kyrgios put on a good face. “It was an amazing atmosphere and a hell of a match,” he said.

“I honestly felt like the favorite coming in – I played him a couple of weeks ago. But I knew that it was going to be a tough match. He’s a hell of a player and I had my own tactics out there. He knew how to play me; he’s beaten me once before.

“I’m just super-happy to be through. He was getting frustrated out there and it’s a frustrating sport at times, that’s for sure. I’ve got ultimate respect for him. Whatever happens on the court, I love him.”

However, when it came time for the two players to speak during their respective post-match press conferences, that’s when each tossed more than a few verbal volleys at one another.

Tsitsipas called Kyrgios, who reached the fourth round at the All England Club for the first time since 2016, a “bully.” After the match, Tsitsipas suggested that Kyrgios has “an evil side” and that he must have been “a bully at school” based upon his behavior throughout the match.

Here’s how Tsitsipas described Kyrgios’s antics: “It’s constant bullying; that’s what he does. He bullies the opponents. He was probably a bully at school himself. I don’t like bullies. I don’t like people that put other people down.

“He has some good traits in his character as well, but … he also has a very evil side to him, which if it’s exposed, it can really do a lot of harm and bad to the people around him.”

And how did Kyrgios respond to Tsitsipas? “To come in here and say I bullied him, that’s just soft. We’re not cut from the same cloth. I go up against guys who are true competitors. If he’s affected by that today, then that’s what holding him back, because someone can just do that and that’s going to throw him off him game like that. I just think it’s soft.”

Kyrgios went on to suggest he didn’t know how he had bullied Tsitsipas. “He was the one hitting balls at me. He was the one that hit a spectator. He was the one that smacked it out of the stadium. I didn’t do anything. … Apart from me just going back and forth to the umpire for a bit, I did nothing towards Stefanos today that was disrespectful, I don’t think. I was not drilling him with balls.”

While Tsitsipas admitted he tried to hit Kyrgios a few times, he went on to suggest there should be a rule that would stop players like Kyrgios from behaving the way he does during a match – which Tsitsipas seemed to find more than a wee bit distracting.

“Every single point that I played today I feel like there was something going on the other side of the net,” Tsitsipas said. “I’m trying not to be distracted by that, because I know it might be intentional, because for sure he can play other way[s]. And that’s his way of manipulating the opponent and making you feel distracted, in a way.

“There is no other player that does this. There is no other player that is so upset and frustrated all the time with something. It triggers it so easy and so fast.”

Tsitsipas added: “He’s very different. That’s not a bad thing. But I don’t think there has been a single match I have played with him that he was behaving that way. There comes a point where you really get tired of it, let’s say.

“The constant talking. The constant complaining. I mean, I’m about to serve, and there is a big gap there that there is no tennis being played, which is the most important thing in the court. We are there to play tennis. We are not there to have conversations and dialogues with other people … especially when you really know that the referee is not going to overrule what he decided, you know.”

Stay tuned, the elegance of Wimbledon has just gotten nutty.

Saturday’s Wimbledon results

Sunday’s Wimbledon order of play

By the numbers

“Quotable …”

“Well probably it’s been my best match without a doubt here during The Championships. Against probably the most difficult player I faced. My level has been able to raise a lot. Super happy for that.

“I wish Lorenzo all the very best for the rest of the season. He’s a great player on grass.

“Last year he made already the fourth round and this year again a good result so I think he has a great future here.”

– No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal of Spain, following his 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory over No. 27 seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy in Saturday evening’s third-round Centre Court match. It was the 308th Grand Slam match victory of Nadal’s career.