As Nick Kyrgios continued his blazing run through the Wimbledon draw by reaching the quarter-finals for the first time since his breakout tournament in 2014, he said he arrived here with the title as his goal. And he is doing everything he can to realise it.
“I was telling people back home that I wanted to go for the title this year round,” the Australian said. “I’m not thinking about lifting a trophy or making semi-finals or making the final. I’m just thinking about my habits every day, just trying to put in a good performance on the court, then put in a good practice session, try to stay positive.”
Despite not being able to produce his best tennis, Kyrgios was disciplined and focused during the pivotal moments as he edged out Brandon Nakashima in a tight five-setter, winning 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-2. It is only his third grand slam quarter-final.
Afterwards Kyrgios praised the performance of his 20-year-old American opponent and said he is learning to enjoy battling through tight matches, remaining calm even when unable to find top form. “That’s probably the first time in my career where I wasn’t playing well, regardless of playing Centre Court Wimbledon, fully packed crowd, I was able to just say, ‘Wow, look how far I’ve come,’ to myself,” the 27-year-old said. “I was bouncing the ball before I served. I really just smiled to myself. I was like, ‘We’re here, we’re competing at Wimbledon, putting in a good performance mentally.’ It was rewarding.”
After losing the opening set Kyrgios required treatment for a shoulder issue and he struggled to tap into the form that was so readily available to him in his third-round victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas.
He did not struggle with his concentration, however, and he was far more muted than two days earlier, using his experience in the important moments to guide him through.
Kyrgios said he ended the fourth set with a “complete rope-a-dope tactic”, throwing away his service game to break his opponent’s rhythm. He then recovered not through outrageous shot-making or showboating but by playing disciplined, high-percentage tennis.
“I definitely feel like I’ve been around for a long time,” he said. “People don’t really realise, I’m 27 now. I was playing juniors here as well, 16. I’ve been here so much. So I feel comfortable here. But I definitely feel like a bit of a veteran now.”
As he seeks to reach a first grand slam semi-final, Kyrgios’s efforts left a mark. He planned to retreat with his team for dinner and relaxation. “I need a glass of wine for sure tonight,” he said.
Kyrgios next faces Chile’s Cristian Garín, the world No 43 who was ranked inside the top 20 last year and pulled off an incredible victory against Alex de Minaur, the 19th seed, recovering from two sets down and then saving double match point to win 2-6, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (6) in four hours 34 minutes. The contest on Wednesday will be Garín’s first grand slam quarter-final.