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Wimbledon – Kyrgios: “Djokovic did nothing extraordinary but he never looked destabilized”

The warm handshake at the net and his smiles during the trophy presentation may have given the wrong impression. The one that Nick Kyrgios was above all happy to be on Center Court this Sunday, in a Grand Slam final that he no longer thought he could reach by his own admission. But that would be to be seriously mistaken about the man and his character, and to forget his gaze lost in the void before receiving his unhappy finalist tray. No, the whimsical Aussie was there to win and it showed.
There were indeed a few “tweeners” whose effectiveness was sometimes dubious. You don’t redo the stripes of the zebra, and after all, that’s also part of its charm and its sense of showmanship. But he did not refuse the fight, quite the contrary. He was even the first to sound the charge.

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I felt in my place. I think to have a 2-0 record (two wins to nothing before this final, editor’s note) in my favor helped me a little. I had already beaten this player before. I had already played big finals. My level has always been there. I feel like I kind of set it up these two weeks. I am obviously very disappointed. I felt that the title was really within my reach. I played a damn good first set and I was in a good position“, he thus estimated in a press conference.

A striking contrast in key moments

And for good reason, it was difficult to realize that it was Nick Kyrgios’ first Grand Slam final. Returning to his match without complex, he showed that he had the weapons to look the now seven-time winner of the tournament in the eye. If his service efficiency (30 aces, 73% of first serves) came as no surprise to anyone – it was also the best proof that he was not too taken up by the event -, it is his ability to hold the rally from the baseline, especially in the first two innings, who hit.

Until the end, and even if the dynamics gradually changed sides, Kyrgios believed in it. By pushing his opponent to the tie-break of the fourth set, he still hoped to regain control of this final. So what did he really miss? “It’s weird, I feel like he didn’t do anything extraordinary today. He of course returned in his own way, he is an excellent raiser. But he was so calm. I think that’s his greatest strength, he never looks destabilized. Hats off to him. It was a game from hell. I think I served well. But I was not able to play those decisive points at all“, he noted, bluntly.

Despite an unfavorable start to the match and great difficulty in reading Kyrgios’ serve for just over a set, Djokovic did not move an eyelash. As aware that staying in his bubble of concentration was what would allow him to lift the trophy a seventh time. When he found himself facing three break points at 5-3 in his favor in the second set, he also remained impervious. Meanwhile, on the other side of the net, the Australian went crazy with every missed opportunity (1/6 on break points against 2/4 for Djokovic) and systematically insulted his clan.

I told myself that if I won, I would become a tennis immortal

From this point of view, there was no photo between the two men. Kyrgios is well aware that he needs to improve in this area. And it is also perhaps in moments of tension that the weight of the occasion weighed the most on his shoulders. “I think the other 126 players in the roster could improve that. At times, I got angry because I thought that if I won this tournament, I would become a tennis immortal. It was just an opportunity for me, one that people work their whole lives for.“, he confessed.

On the other side of the net, the animal was playing his 32nd Grand Slam final, an experience that is priceless when the points count double. “When you win an event that much, when you’ve been in those situations, it’s amazing. You can tell yourself that you have already been there. Confidence and faith in yourself only comes with success I can only imagine the confidence he feels every day, especially at Wimbledon“, he insisted again.

Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon in 2022

Credit: Getty Images

A bad for a good for the future?

His experience, Kyrgios builds it up. Finally, one would be tempted to say, given the potential of the man. The Australian has proven to himself that he can play the leading roles in Grand Slams and this frustrating defeat could have an advantage: that of making him want to return there. If he had won Wimbledon, he would undoubtedly have experienced it as an achievement, like Yannick Noah in 1983 after his coronation at Roland-Garros. The best is therefore perhaps yet to come for him.

It took me 10 years, almost 10 years of career, to manage to play a final and fail. I feel like if I had won, I would have lacked a bit of motivation, to be honest. But my level is there. I’m not late at all. I played a Slam final against one of the greatest of all time, and there I was, looking like I had played some more. I think I handled the pressure well.” And maybe he will manage it even better next time. Provided he continues to give himself the means.

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