After the bad and the ugly of the first-round win over Paul Jubb and the explosive subsequent press conference – Nick Kyrgios was exceptionally good on Thursday in destroying Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic on Court Two 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 to ease effortlessly and so impressively into the last 32.
Bad on-court behaviour played no part in this exhibition, there was hardly a peep out of the temperamental Australian towards officials or spectators. Instead, we saw all that is sublime about Kyrgios’s actual ability on a tennis court, and his unique repertoire of shots. Far too many of them, in the case of Krajinovic.
There was no spitting – the subject of a Wimbledon investigation during his first match at the event – and no clashes with the umpire or the lines-people. This was rather a ruthless, brutal and efficient performance that raised questions about whether Kyrgios could win the tournament, rather than if he should be thrown out of it.
And it was clear from both his on-court interview and then his latest brush with the massed ranks the media later on that a defiant Kyrgios feels misunderstood and persecuted, that he is the victim of some kind media of witch-hunt, and that being a man with a huge point to prove after so much criticism this week dragged his very best level out of him.
Next up for the maverick 27-year-old is the No4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. In any year this would be a huge third-round match-up at a grand slam. But with the withdrawal of this year’s Queen’s champion and last year’s runner-up Matteo Berrettini from the same quarter of the draw, there is perhaps even more at stake in terms of opportunity this time.
Kyrgios said: “I guess just from a personal standpoint, my performance in my first round was not where I wanted to be, especially with the way I've been playing and the way I've been training, the hard work I've been doing. I was pretty disappointed with it.
“Then obviously the media's disrespect and everything, it was just kind of a reminder to put you all back in your place from the performance today. He [Krajinovic] made finals at Queen's, he is top 30 in the world, seeded. It's a gentle reminder. Today I was in my zone, great body language and played well - and I just wanted to remind everyone that I am pretty good.
“Today from the get-go, I just felt really good. From the back of the court I felt like I really returned well. I was just very just locked in from the get-go today. I just wanted to, I don't know, just prove to people that, like, I'm really good. I feel like I just don't have the respect sometimes, you know?
“I know that I'm good. I just feel like people just don't give me the respect sometimes because of other things that I do. There is just nothing the media possibly could tell me I did wrong today. I just know that you can't possibly ask me anything and stir anything up. And I love it because then you can't write anything. What are you going to say? Nothing today. Dumbfounded all of you.
“I wanted to just, for myself, know that I'm rewarding myself with the hard work I'm putting in. All the grass court matches I played, I wanted to feel like I was able to showcase it at Wimbledon. I wasn't able to do that in my first round. I was just really rocky and lucky to get through my first round. Today was good.
“I am just happy when I am playing that well. I have been working hard and preparing for this tournament. I circle it on my calendar and plan for it all year, and am so excited to be here again.
“It is my best chance to win a grand slam tournament of all the four, so I’ll keep taking it match by match. I have an incredibly tough draw still, but today I couldn’t have played better and now I can just recover and get ready.”
There was a little dig at the authorities from a player who has not always been first in the pecking order when the Centre Court invites are being handed out. The match against Tsitsipas will attract massive interest – and Kyrgios remarked: “Playing Tsitsipas next round, it will be on a larger court, most likely Court One. I'm excited. I feel like we both earned the right. We're two of the biggest stars in the sport. Hopefully if we both bring our best tennis, it's going to be amazing to watch.”
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