Kyrgios Beats Nakashima To Reach First Grand Slam Quarter-Final In Over Seven Years

The Australian beat Brandon Nakashima 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 to take his record in five-set matches at Wimbledon to a faultless 6-0
18:58, 04 Jul 2022

Nick Kyrgios insists that he has come a long way from being “dragged out of a Wimbledon pub at 4am by my agent before playing Rafael Nadal” after reaching only a third grand slam quarter-final of his volatile career - and a first anywhere for seven and a half years. 

The unseeded 27-year-old, whose fiery and ill-tempered third-round victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas saw him branded “a bully…with an evil side” by his beaten opponent, eventually got past the 20-year-old American Brandon Nakashima 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 to take his record in five-set matches at Wimbledon to a faultless 6-0. 

And his reward in the last eight will be a match against Chile’s Cristian Garin, also unseeded and the main beneficiary of last year’s runner-up Matteo Berrettini having to withdraw with Covid, after he mounted a spectacular and gutsy comeback from two sets down to beat Kyrgios’s Aussie compatriot Alex De Minaur 2-6, 5-7, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6 in four hours and 34 minutes.

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It will be Garin’s first slam quarter-final and a first ever meeting with Kyrgios – who believes that his team and girlfriend have got him back on the rails after dark spells in his tennis life that saw him fall totally out of love with the sport. A clash with Nadal - no locker-room friend of the outspoken Aussie - on Centre Court in 2019 came during one of those. 

This is as far as Kyrgios - who appeared to be suffering with a shoulder problem that required him to call the trainer on - has ever got in the majors, and he may never get a better chance of breaking new ground and getting into a first semi-final, or going even further. And you suspect being able to face down all those who have heavily criticised him for his on-court behaviour and wave some grand slam success in their faces would be something he would savour very much indeed. 

Kyrgios upset some traditionalist sticklers by bending the rules and changing back into the red trainers he walked on court with and donning a red cap for his courtside post-match interview. 

And after putting some real graft during the match, he said: “There was a time where I was having to be forced out of a pub at 4 am to play Nadal second round. 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. 

“But now I've got an incredible support crew. My physio is one of my best friends. My best friend is my agent. I've got the best girlfriend in the world. I feel like I can reflect on all those dark times when I pushed them all away. Now to sit here in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, feeling good, feeling composed, feeling mature, having that around me, I'm extremely blessed. I feel like I'm just comfortable in my own skin. 

“I was laughing to myself at times in the match, thinking ‘Look how far I've come’. I really just smiled to myself. I was like, ‘We're here, we're competing at Wimbledon, putting in a good performance mentally’. 

“It wasn’t anywhere near my best performance level-wise but I fought really hard and I am super-happy to be through. I have played a lot of tennis recently and my shoulder was sore after the Tsitsipas match. I didn’t feel 100 per cent and had some painkillers, but stayed calm and dealt with that well. But I have never lost a five-set match here and I did it again. 

“When I came on court De Minaur was two sets up so I was surprised to hear after Garin had won. But it was a hell of an effort from Brandon today, he is 20 years old and is going to do some special things, that’s for sure. Now I will be having a glass of wine tonight, for sure.” 

Garin admitted his prowess on grass, having also reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last year, goes against the grain in Chile where “there are no grass courts – none”. 

He is only the fourth Chilean ever to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, the last one being Fernando Gonzalez in 2005 – a player now retired who was Garin’s boyhood hero, and has evolved into something of a mentor and source of advice in more recent years. 

Arguably Chile’s greatest player was former No1 Marcelo Rios, but his Wimbledon record was terrible and he joined the ranks of those who could never master the surface in saying “Grass is for cows”. After winning already over £300,000, it was clear Garin did not agree. 

Garin, who saved two match points against De Minaur, said: “In Chile we don’t have many tennis players – but the ones we did have had some good results. Fernando Gonzalez did it last, and he has helped me a lot. 

“Wimbledon is my favourite tournament…I didn’t say it was my favourite surface! But I enjoy being on the grass. I have to adapt my game a bit and play more aggressively, but this is my fifth time here and I have been gaining experience all the time. 

“For me Nick is really a seed because he is one of the best players on the tour on grass, obviously. And opportunities  - you have to build them. If we are in the quarter-finals, we both beat good players. To be there is a dream – something very special for me.” 

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