Rafa Nadal caught up in shock Nick Kyrgios reveal at Wimbledon
Nick Kyrgios has made the starting admission at Wimbledon that his manager had to drag him out of a London pub at 4am before a match at the All England Club.
Kyrgios was on his best behaviour - despite a fourth set in which he was accused of tanking - in a thrilling five-set win against American Brandon Nakashima at Wimbledon on Monday.
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The 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 victory saw a more focused and subdued Kyrgios move into the quarter-finals of a grand slam for the first time in seven years.
Playing on Centre Court following the mayhem of his previous win over Stefanos Tsitsipas, Kyrgios showed rare spirit, summoning up his best when it mattered most to make it into the last eight and remain on a collision course with Rafael Nadal.
Kyrgios next faces a quarter-final showdown with Chilean Cristian Garin, who'd earlier knocked out Australian mate Alex de Minaur in an epic five-setter.
If Kyrgios gets through that match, he faces a potential semi-final showdown with Nadal, who trounced Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp 6-4 6-2 7-6 (8-6).
The Aussie spoke after his victory about a newfound sense of maturity and calmness and reflected on a story involving Nadal from three years ago that showed just how much he'd grown as a tennis player.
Kyrgios announced himself on the world stage as a 19-year-old at Wimbledon in 2014 when he knocked out Nadal as a wildcard ranked 144 in the world.
The Spaniard gained his revenge in a four-set victory at Wimbledon in 2019, with Kyrgios admitting he had to be hauled out of a pub at 4am on the morning before that match.
“My agent had to come to force me out of a pub at 4am to play Nadal second round, on Centre Court, Wimbledon,” Kyrgios told reporters at his post-match press conference on Tuesday.
“I’ve come a long way, that’s for sure.”
There were signs of the old Kyrgios against Nakashima at SW19 on Monday, with commentator Todd Woodbridge accusing the Aussie of tanking the fourth set due to an apparent shoulder injury, with fears of an all-too-familiar meltdown well and truly on the cards.
Nick Kyrgios taps into newfound mental resolve
However, Kyrgios made a stunning admission in his press conference after the match about an unseen moment that helped him turn the tide and offered proof that the Aussie is a changed man.
“He was playing really well. I wasn’t playing that great. But I was almost enjoying the competitiveness,” Kyrgios said.
“That’s probably the first time in my career where I wasn’t playing well, regardless of playing Centre Court Wimbledon, fully packed crowd, (and) I was able to just say, ‘Wow, look how far I’ve come’, to myself. 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’.”
Whatever he did, it worked as Kyrgios extended his stunning unbeaten record in Wimbledon five-setters to 6-0 after dominating Nakashima in the decider.
"I've been here before, done it before and that is what I was thinking about," Kyrgios told his fans afterwards.
"Nowhere near my best performance, but I fought through, and the crowd were amazing.
"I have played a lot of tennis in the last month and a half and I'm just proud with how I played (with the injury)."
Kyrgios racked up another $A5800 fine from the All England Club for his behaviour in the Tsitsipas match, as well as copping a verbal lashing from Aussie great Pat Cash who accused the 27-year-old of 'cheating', among other things.
However, the controversial star was happy to shrug off the drama and provide a stunning response to his critics.
"It's so funny (the criticism). I joke around with my team about it so much. It's hilarious. I almost just wake up and read things, and I just laugh," he said.
"I have a massive chip on my shoulder. Like I sit here now in quarter-finals Wimbledon again, and I just know there's so many people that are so upset."
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