Nick Kyrgios backed up his upset over Halle champion Ugo Humbert with a 7-6 6-4 6-4 victory over Gianluca Mager. While the scoreline might imply the match was dull, the encounter was actually entertaining.
The Australian, a self-proclaimed “part-time player” who traveled to London to chill out, graced fans in attendance with the full Nick Kyrgios Experience, which includes, but is not limited to: lots of aces, great shotmaking, arguments with the umpire, complaints about the conditions, underarm serves, and continuous interaction with the crowd. His on-court demeanor is dreaded by coaches trying to raise the next generation of tennis players. Yet, he’s arguably the most popular male pro among young kids, excluding the Big 4.
Mager let Nick Kyrgios off the hook in the first set
In the first set, Kyrgios started out stronger than Mager. Nevertheless, the Italian saved several break points in different service games and momentum appeared to shift. All of the sudden, Kyrgios started bemoaning how slow the grass was. He claimed he felt he was playing at Roland Garros. He received his typical warning up 4-3. Mager enjoyed a 5-2 lead in the breaker, but failed to capitalize. In the decisive point at 7-7, Kyrgios connected a beautiful forehand passing shot, then proceeded to imitate LeBron James’ stairs celebration.
A big serve sealed the opener for the 2014 quarterfinalist, who never looked back. The serve led the charge throughout the match for Kyrgios. The Canberra native finished with 29 aces and clearly dominated the short point battle, which is fundamental on grass.
Volleys? Not today
Something that surprised me was how reluctant he was to come to the net. Not even a dozen times. That number is a testament to how strong his “serve+1” was. Despite his above average touch, Kyrgios isn’t a natural serve and volley guy. In fact, he tends to overuse it in delicate situations when trailing. Therefore, the fact he barely approached the net is probably a good sign.
After the match, Kyrgios gifted a ball to a fan that had been giving him tips about his serve placement. In the press room, the Aussie said he was cool with not winning Majors, emphasizing he’d rather be a relatable individual who gives fans the show they want.
Ahead of the tournament, Kyrgios said he could beat 50% of the players at Wimbledon with little preparation. So far, he’s gone farther than 75% of the field. On Saturday, Felix Auger-Aliassime awaits across the net. Remember this classic interaction two years ago at Queen’s?
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) July 1, 2021
May the better player prevail.
Main Photo from Getty.