Wimbledon: “I’m not scared of anyone in the draw,” says Kyrgios

  • Matt Trollope

Last week, when the tennis world was getting excited about Wimbledon and making predictions about the upcoming tournament, few mentioned Nick Kyrgios.

If they did, it was because he had drawn Halle champion Ugo Humbert, and it was a nice first-round match up. 

Kyrgios had not played in five months. He had only arrived in London four days earlier.

So when he ended Humbert’s six-match winning streak in five sets on Wednesday, it reminded everyone what a threat he could be at the tournament where he first exploded onto the international tennis stage.

“A lot of people were telling me there's no chance, there's no point in you going (to Wimbledon) with that short preparation,” revealed the Australian, who next plays Italy’s Gianluca Mager.

“I think it was [Brad] Gilbert telling me: There's no chance you can come off the couch and compete at this level against players. I'm like: Dude, I know my game, I know how to play on grass. I'm not scared of anyone in the draw. I know if I believe and I'm feeling good mentally, like, I know what I'm capable of.

“I've been playing this sport since I was seven years old. Like, I could have two days (preparation), it doesn't matter. I'm going to go out there and give it. I'm going to serve big and play big, and just compete. 

“I don't really care what anyone says. I'm my own person. I prepare the way I prepare and it worked.”

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The reason we didn’t see Kyrgios on court in more than four months? 

He had an honest conversation with himself, and concluded he would not be in a good mental headspace if he competed week after week in the professional tennis bubble, necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

So he chose not to endure it.

“I don't really care what anyone says. I'm my own person. I prepare the way I prepare and it worked.”
Nick Kyrgios

In a quirk of the draw, his previous match victory also came against Humbert; he saved a match point to beat the Frenchman in the second round of Australian Open 2021 on 10 February.

The 26-year-old enjoyed the thrill of competing once again on a big stage in front of a large crowd, fans that loved seeing one of the sport’s premier performers in full flight.

“(The crowd was) like: Thank you, Nick, for keeping me so entertained,” said Kyrgios, who beat world No.1 Rafael Nadal to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals as a teenager in 2014.

“I'll continue to go out there and try and give them a show and just try and bring that different aspect of tennis. A lot of people wanted me to play because of that. 

“I'm here, I'm trying to give you what I've got. That's that.”

Venus eyes mixed after singles elimination

On Tuesday, five-time Wimbledon singles champion Venus Williams turned back the clock with her first victory at the tournament in three years. 

On Wednesday, the 41-year-old’s run came to an end at the hands of Ons Jabeur, the Birmingham champion who has now won eight of her last nine matches on grass.

“Of course it's incredible any time you get to play here. It just never gets old,” Williams said. “Definitely not my best day. Maybe a few too many errors. But I think a lot of it was how she played.”

Would she want to return next year?

“Of course. Who wouldn't want to be at Wimbledon?” she replied.

Venus Williams (R) has indicated that this will not be the last year we see her at Wimbledon. (Getty Images)

She then added, with a smile: “When it's my last, I'll let you all know. I'll give you a little whisper in your ear.”

Thankfully, this is not the last time we will see her compete at the All England Club in 2021; she will team with Kyrgios in the mixed doubles, an event scheduled to begin on Friday.

“At 41, I don't think I'll be able to honestly hit another ball,” Kyrgios said. 

“She's a legend. I'm not sure how long she'll play for, so before she kind of gives it up, I do want to experience playing with one of the Williams sisters in mixed doubles. Honestly that's like a dream come true for me. 

“I think we're a bit of a danger pair as well if we serve well. The crowd will definitely get behind us. I'm super excited. I can tell she's excited, too. 

“I don't think she ever thought back in the day she'd be playing mixed doubles with the bad boy of tennis.”

Murray breaks through for shot at Shapovalov

Watching Andy Murray toil in four sets to beat Nikoloz Basilashvili, and then requiring five to beat Oscar Otte, concerns rose about the former world No.1’s physical health, considering his years of injury setbacks – including two hip surgeries.

But he delivered an encouraging on-court interview following his win over Otte on Wednesday.

“I’m obviously tired, and I fell over a couple of times, pretty slick courts. But I think considering everything, I feel alright. Hips feel good,” he smiled, as cheers rang out. “I obviously get a rest day tomorrow, and hopefully come out on Friday and play in another atmosphere like this, and hopefully perform well.”

“Playing in atmospheres like that, and creating moments and memories like that, is one of the reasons why I'm still playing."
Andy Murray

Such an atmosphere seems guaranteed, given he next faces No.10 seed Denis Shapovalov.

The electric Centre Court crowd boosted Murray throughout his 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-4 6-2 triumph over Otte, and although he admits he is struggling with focus and form given limited preparation and recent matches, moments like this have justified his struggles.

“Playing in atmospheres like that, and creating moments and memories like that, is one of the reasons why I'm still playing,” said the 34-year-old. 

It marks the first time Murray has won back-to-back matches at tour level since August 2020, and the first time he has gone beyond the second round at a Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon in 2017.