Going into the final weekend of Wimbledon 2022 we have both our finalists in both the gentlemen’s singles event. Top seed Novak Djokovic will be playing in his eighth final in the English capital after beating the likes of up and comer Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinals and home favourite Cameron Norrie in the semis. From the other half of the draw, however, is a somewhat surprising finalist in Nick Kyrgios, and it’s surprising because it has to do with a fair amount of good fortune.
Let’s start with the obvious, Matteo Berrettini. The Italian won Queens last year and backed up the result with a Wimbledon final. Just to show everyone it wasn’t a one off fluke grass season, the 26-year-old won in Stuttgart and defended his title at Queens this year to make himself one of the heavy favourites for this Wimbledon. Unfortunately, just as the tournament was beginning in SW19, COVID struck the big server which caused his withdrawal. The Australian was in Berrettini’s quarter of the draw which no one saw anyone but the Italian coming out of on recent form.
Even having a look at Nick Kyrgios’ first match at Wimbledon there’s good fortune involved. Up against wildcard Paul Jubb ranked 219 in the world for a majority of the match the Brit was actually the better player just unfortunately letting the occasion get to him. Kyrgios faced 13 break points on serve in the match whilst Jubb just the six despite coming out the loser. At 5-5 in the fifth it was another case of Jubb not handling the pressure well and despite having break point to go onto serve for the match the 22-year-old went onto gift the final few games with far too many errors.
In the second round, the 27-year-old went onto destroy Filip Krajinovic. Despite the Serb making the Queens final just a few weeks back, he’s a seed any unseeded player wouldn’t have minded getting early on. Krajinovic, despite being 30-years-old now just got his first win at Wimbledon in a four hour match just a few days before.
By far Kyrgios’ best win of the event so far came against world #5 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round but it wasn’t without a whole bunch of horrible antics on his side en route to getting the win. With swearing constantly and even at one point trying to get his opponent defaulted, there’s no wonder he got into the Greek’s head. Just to add to all the drama, on a crucial break point late in the fourth set Tsitsipas got the return back into play only for the serve to be called out and the point replayed with Kyrgios hitting a service winner. Sadly, little stuff like that might have made all the difference with the Australian lucking out yet again.
When it comes to the second week of a slam you would be thinking now is the time where Kyrgios will start playing some more elite players and guess what, that of course didn’t happen. Up against world #56 Brandon Nakashima in the next round, the 20-year-old’s first Grand Slam fourth round, he barely scraped through in a fifth set with the American looking noticeably fatigued in the final set. Perhaps not surprising with it just being the third five-setter he’s ever played.
Surely by now after Brandon Nakashima in the last 16 Kyrgios had to get a far superior player in the quarters with the likes of Taylor Fritz, Novak Djokovic, Jannik Sinner and Rafael Nadal all making the final eight but instead he ironically got Cristian Garin, the man Matteo Berrettini was scheduled to play in the opening round before his withdrawal. With no disrespect to Garin, he’s a solid player but not one worthy of making the last eight of the biggest event in our sport. Just when you think the dream draw couldn’t get any better it was.
With Rafael Nadal winning an epic against Taylor Fritz in the quarters in a final set tiebreak, the Spaniard decided to call it quits before the semifinal. Not only does Nadal lead the head-to-head between the two 6-3 but if fully fit and ready to play would have been on track to make his first Wimbledon final in 11 years. Without the Australian having to play his semifinal, it meant just one of his opponents en route to the final had even beat a top 50 player this event and that Kyrgios himself had only beaten one top 30 player.
Now let’s not forget that Russians and Belarusians were also banned from this event for pathetic reasons I won’t go into. Without the ban the likes of world #1 Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, especially the former, were on track to do big things following good form in the previous few grass court events. With them and other top Russians gone it only made for a bigger opportunity for several players able to compete.
Even German Alexander Zverev still out due to twisting his ankle in the semis of Roland Garros, though his record at Wimbledon is hardly sparkling. Of course, this is the same for Djokovic but given he’s won this event the last three times and six times overall, it’s not like he needs much help in London anyway.
Kyrgios played three previous grass court events just prior to Wimbledon and didn’t make a final of a single one. He comes to Wimbledon and as previously mentioned, it’s obvious the stars have aligned with arguable one of the easiest and unexpected draws a player could ever dream of. Nakashima in round four, Garin in the semis and a walkover in the semis, this is stuff you would expect from an ATP 250 event not the biggest tournament in tennis.
There’s a reason that prior to this event Kyrgios had not made the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam in seven and a half years. It’s honestly laughable just to think how lucky Wimbledon’s latest finalist has been.
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