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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday July 2, 2022


Nick Kyrgios got under Stefanos Tsitsipas' skin as he toppled the Greek on the scoreboard at Wimbledon to reach week two.

Photo Source: Getty

One of the most bizarre and bitterly contested Wimbledon matches bled from the court into the press room on Saturday night in London, as Nick Kyrgios celebrated his 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(9) victory over No.4-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas at Wimbledon, relishing a trip to Wimbledon’s round of 16 for the first time since 2016 and batting back criticism that came from his angry opponent.

Tennis Express

“It's constant bullying, that's what he does,” still miffed Tsitsipas said of Kyrgios in his press conference. “He bullies the opponents. He was probably a bully at school himself.

"I don't like bullies. I don't like people that put other people down. “He has some good traits in his character, as well. But when he – he also has a very evil side to him, which if it's exposed, it can really do a lot of harm and bad to the people around him.”

Tsitsipas may be right, but was the Greek right to let the Aussie’s antics affect him so much? Certainly not. That became painfully obvious when the No.4 seed pelted a ball out of the court in anger after dropping the second set. It caromed off a wall and hit a spectator, and it was Kyrgios’ moment take the psychological element of the battle to the next level.

The irate Aussie demanded an explanation, pleading the umpire to do something about Tsitsipas’ transgression, and refused to play on until he talked to a supervisor.

The Aussie didn’t get his wish – Tsitsipas played on – but the chaos of the moment slowly bled into Tsitsipas' core. From that point on he took every opportunity to fire balls at Kyrgios when he was at the net. The circus had now become a shooting gallery, the sanctuary of Wimbledon had now become a maelstrom, and Kyrgios was happy to play the starring role.

Tsitsipas admitted he was essentially playing into Kyrgios' hands after the match, though he didn't seem to be aware of it.

“I don't think he could play without having a circus around,” he said. “ It's just the way he likes things being done, like he's on his own terms, his own way.

“He just always gets away with it. I spoke to the umpire briefly, telling him that, 'You know, it's really crossing the line in many ways.' I do understand he got a code violation for something he did. I remember one, two of the line umpires walking up to the referee and telling him something. So it happened twice, something might happen twice.

“It just feels very messy. It just feels like disorganized in a way.”

Tsitsipas should not have let the freewheeling Kyrgios affect him so much, and surely his frustration played a role in his ultimate demise. Meanwhile, Kyrgios was brilliant down the stretch. It is his element after all.

He saved three break points in his final three service games to get to a fourth-set breaker and then locked down his victory in a well-played fourth-set tiebreak.

Game, set, ignition.

Tsitsipas couldn’t convert any of his five break points in the match. He hit 57 winners against 36 unforced errors, but was broken once in the second set and once in the third – too much against a lights-out server like Kyrgios.

It was a solid grass-court season for the Greek, but he’ll have to go back to the drawing board and look at this loss through a few different lenses. At 23, Tsitsipas has a bright future on Wimbledon’s grass, he just needs to keep improving his tennis, and his mental game.

Lost in the madness is the fact that Kyrgios is playing extremely well when it matters most. He has played seven hours of 47 minutes through week one and appears to be moving and striking the ball as well as he has in some time.

He also seemed to relish in his opponent’s frustration. He couldn’t help smile when he sat down in his post-match press conference and was told of Tsitsipas’ comments.

He may have told the crowd that he had no hard feelings that that he had the "ultimate respect" for Tsitsipas on court, but the gloves were most certainly back on in the press room.

“I feel great,” he said. “I don't know – the circus was all him today. I actually felt great. I feel great physically now. I'm ready to go again if I need to play again tomorrow. I just think he's making that match about me, like he's got some serious issues, like serious.

“I'm good in the locker room. I've got many friends, just to let you know. I'm actually one of the most liked. I'm set. He's not liked. Let's just put that there.”

Kyrgios may even be better in a war of words than he is in a grass-court shootout, and that’s saying a lot.

As hard as it is to look at the actual tennis that occurred in this match because of the smokescreen that was thrown up very early in the contest, it is clear from Kyrgios’ play – and his words – that he wants to make an impact on the second week.

He’ll have an opportunity to do that when he faces American Brandon Nakashima in the round of 16. If he gets through, he’ll face either Alex de Minaur or Cristian Garin in the last eight.

Totally winnable matches for Kyrgios, if he stays the course. The Aussie is becoming most everybody’s enemy this Wimbledon fortnight and he likes it that way. As long as he doesn’t become his own worst enemy he could find himself across the net from Rafael Nadal in what would be his first Grand Slam semifinal.

If it happens, the hallowed blades of grass of Wimbledon’s Centre Court, will have likely never seen anything like it…


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