Nick Kyrgios has once again expressed his love for the tennis courts and smells the prospect of taking his first triumph on the grass courts of Germany this week.
The Australian secured one of the biggest wins of his 2022 checkered season in Halle on Thursday, following a set-down to knock out Stefanos Tsitsipas in a thrilling duel and reach the quarter-finals of the pre-Wimbledon event.
It was a quintessential Kyrgios affair, full of off-field struggles and on-field brilliance, with the 27-year-old finally overcoming a one-set deficit, two code violations and a heated argument with the referee before he beat the Greek superstar 5 defeated. -7 6-2 6-4.
The Aussie was even cautioned for taking too long to get into position to face Tsitsipas’ service in the second set, prompting him to tell reporters afterwards in disbelief: “He said I was playing too slow – statistically I’m one of the fastest!”
“I had to walk to the sidelines to get my towel. There is such a thing as sweat in the 30 degree heat that gets on your hands. I had to wipe my hands – and he gave me a warning.”
With a new tattoo on his left leg featuring the Oscar Wilde-inspired nugget, “Give a man a mask and he’ll become his true self,” it was still unclear who the real Kyrgios is when he used his familiar mix of the unfathomably bewildering and unfathomably brilliant.
He was remarkably irritable at first, moaning over ill-timed coughing fits and unmuted cell phones in the crowd, but then he beamed as he enthusiastically shared how much he enjoyed being urged on by the German fans.
“The support I get from crowds around the world is amazing. They want me to go out and put on a show,” he said.
“I’m glad I can still reach this level with the tournaments I play. It’s a testament to how hard I work when I’m not playing.”
Indeed, it was on days like these that Kyrgios looks like he can beat anyone on grass and fire off astonishing forehand winners seemingly coming from all parts of the field.
And he came again with shots that seemingly only he can play, such as retrieving a forehand from behind from a thoroughbred Tsitsipas tracer that seemed to throw the astonished Greek off his stride.
Asked if he felt this could be the week he finally wins his first tournament on grass after six wins on hard courts, Kyrgios smiled: “Well, it doesn’t help that there are only four or five weeks a year on grass.
“If there were as many grass court tournaments in Australia as clay courts in Europe, I would never leave Australia!”
He is confident he can beat anyone still in the draw, including Friday’s quarter-final opponent Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, whom he defeated twice before, including at the Australian Open six years ago.
“I feel like I’m one of the best on the grass and hopefully it will be this week,” Kyrgios shrugged.
“But it’s one lap at a time and we’ll see how it goes.”
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