Nick Kyrgios says “so many people will be upset” he has reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals, but says it is a “good feeling” to silence his critics.
His entertaining SW19 run continued as he shrugged off a shoulder injury to beat American Brandon Nakashima 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 and reach his first major quarter-final in seven years.
He is joined in the last eight by Rafael Nadal, who continued his bid for a calendar Grand Slam with a 6-4 6-2 7-6 (8-6) victory over Botic van de Zandschulp.
Nick Kyrgios was more subdued than in his fiery match against Stefanos Tsitsipas, staying largely quiet as he set up a meeting with Chile’s Cristian Garin.
The 27-year-old Australian maintained his focus in a disciplined display and put his success at the All England Club down to improving his habits off the court.
“There was a time where I was having to be forced out of a pub at 4am to play [Rafael] Nadal,” said Kyrgios, who is ranked 40th in the world.
“My agent had to come get me out before I played my match on Centre Court [at] Wimbledon. I’ve come a long way, that’s for sure.”
Unseeded Garin, 26, prevented an all-Australian encounter by fighting back from two sets down – and saving two match points in the fifth – to beat 19th seed Alex de Minaur.
The world number 43, more of a clay-court specialist, reached his first major quarter-final with a 2-6 5-7 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 7-6 (10-6) victory.
All eyes were on Nick Kyrgios following the explosion of his third-round match against fourth-placed Greek player Tsitsipas, which was one of the highlights of this year’s tournament after scoring many games.
While the game against Nakashima at the Center Court did not have Saturday’s fireworks in Court One, it was a bit hot.
Chances of a break were rare as the two dominated their service games, and Nick Kyrgios injury problem further makes the changing game difficult to call.
After getting a hard win with his first point of the game, he said: “I need a big glass of wine tonight for sure.”
As for how he managed to fight 20-year-old Nakashima, he added: “There was nowhere near my best performance but I am very happy with the success and the hard fight.
“I played tennis a lot last month and a half and I’m proud of the way I strengthened the ship.”
Nick Kyrgios has reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon since 2014 when, as a 19-year-old wildfielder, he stunned Rafael Nadal at the time.
Another race followed the Australian Open last 8 in 2015, but he has not been able to reach the same category so far.
“Living here in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, I feel good, I feel comfortable, mature, I have good people around me, I am extremely blessed,” said Nick Kyrgios.
“I feel comfortable in my skin.”
Nick Kyrgios said he was “indifferent” to the criticism he received after Tsitsipas’ game – which resulted in both players being fined for their conduct – and laughed.
“I have a big chip on my shoulder. As I sit here now in the quarter-final of Wimbledon again, and I just know a lot of people are upset,” he said with a smile.
While people regularly discuss his mentality when debating why a player of such talent has not won more titles, injuries are another factor in what have stalled Nick Kyrgios progress over recent years.
Physical problems came to the fore again for the Australian, who pulled out of the Mallorca Open last month with an abdominal injury, at the end of the first set against Nakashima.
“I woke up after playing Tsitsipas and had some shoulder pain,” he said.
“I almost knew that it was time for my body to start feeling some niggles. I think that’s normal. At this time in the event I don’t think anyone is feeling 100%.
“Mentally I feel like I just deal with these things a lot better now.”
In an even opener, neither player made an impression on the other’s serve until Nick Kyrgios, looking impaired by the problem, suddenly struggled with his returns and the American pinched the advantage.
At the start of the second set he continued to grimace and tried to loosen the affected shoulder between points.
Nevertheless he broke in the third game, helped by a double fault and shank by Nakashima, before calling for the physio at the changeover.
After taking painkillers and receiving regular treatment, he managed to move into a two-sets-to-one lead as the match progressed at a rapid pace.
Another twist came when Kyrgios lost his way in the fourth set – which he said was a “complete rope-a-dope tactic”.
Nick Kyrgios tanked the final game as he casually returned – and even served underarm on Nakashima’s first set point, which he still won – but composed himself to run away with the decider.
“I just threw away that service game. I knew he was in a rhythm. He was starting to get on top of me,” said Nick Kyrgios.
“I wanted to throw him off a little bit. It worked.”
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