Enigma of Nick Kyrgios hard to work out but Murray cruises

The Scot eased past brooding Aussie in to ninth consecutive Wimbledon quarter-final

Framed as the first serious test of Andy Murray, Australian Nick Kyrgios, playing on Centre Court with no full-time coach behind him because he doesn't want to listen, because he feels his game is big enough to mix it with the best in the world and because he wants to be the architect of his own downfall or triumph, met an immovable object.

The evening session, tailored for television, so that Murray can suck from the will of the entire nation as well as 15,000 in the stadium, was a savage tutoring of the talented Kyrgios on the first day of Wimbledon’s second week.

“Good first set,” said Kyrgios in a distracted, flippant summation. “The rest of the match was pretty pathetic. I was really comfortable first set. As soon as I lost the first I lost belief. It felt like a mountain to climb. I’m a little bit soft still. When things get tough I’m a little soft.”

Although the 21-year-old was bidding to get to the quarter-finals for the second time, Murray's owned the arena, his straight set win putting him into his ninth consecutive Wimbledon quarterfinal, where he will meet Jo Wilfred Tsonga.


Tsonga came through his fourth-round match when his French Davis Cup team-mate Richard Gasquet hurt his back playing a forehand and like Japan's Kei Nishikori earlier, was forced to retire

For a confidence player like Kyrgios, a likable brat with a trailer-trash haircut, the match was to be a breakthrough but instead became a schooling by Murray.

After a big opening from Kyrgios with whipped forehands and crystal sharp serving through the first set, which fell to Murray 7-5, the threat and menace evaporated in a 26 minute second act.

Murray broke serve at will and served out for the set at 5-1, aceing Kyrgios for the winner and a two-set lead. There was no way back. Murray on Centre court in the fourth round at Wimbledon does not cough up matches.

The Scot was also far from thinking of defending his lead. Second best in returning serve to only Novak Djokovic, Murray tightened the screws in the third game of the third set. Kyrgios was opening up the court but he was missing gimmes and Murray sensed a palpable swing in momentum.

Inevitably the Kyrgios serve fractured. For all of his charged ground strokes, tweeners (between the leg shots), no-look passing shots and wristy volleys, there was a flakiness about his game.

Theatrical and entertaining, Krygios does not need to change his lithe, varied style but he does require calibration, reinforcement to his temperament and some staying juice. The fault lines began to appear too quickly and too obviously, the result which was an unseemly undermining of his ability.

No more so when Krygios sat down in the third set changeovers, his head between his hands and elbows resting on his knees. Looking somewhat lost, the tattoo on his right arm was clearly visible. “Time is running out” read the ornate script.

Murray served in the third set for 3-1, Kyrgios missing a half volley drop shot that in the first set would have landed in. The match quickly raced to 5-3 but the number two seed wasn’t hanging around.

Murray pressed on the Australian serve taking it to advantage and match point and although Kyrgios saved, it was a short pause before exiting the competition, Murray, efficient, cold and effective completing the rout with an ace, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4. The two players embraced at the net, Murray a regular defender of the errant younger player.

“He said sorry. I said okay just go and win the tournament please,” said Kyrgios, who was then asked if he did everything he could to become a better professional.

“No.” He replied deflated, confused but without without elaborating.

Bernard Tomic's epic five setter against French man Lucas Pouille means that there is at least one Australian player into the quarter-finals. Tomic won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 10-8, the sort of scoreline that has prompted players to discuss having fifth-set tiebreaks as they do in the US Open.

Tsonga will have been relieved to have had an easy passage with Gasquet's injury. His third-round match against American John Isner ended with him winning in the fifth set 19-17.

"Maybe they could make a tiebreak at 12-all. Yeah, it is rough for not only the players playing, but also the players that follow that court," said Roger Federer, who equalled Martina Navratilova's record of 14 quarter-finals with his seamless three-set win over American Steve Johnson.

“I think it’s super cool if it goes 12-all, 14-all, 18-all, 20-all, further and further.

“The Open, they have a breaker in the fifth. (Maybe) They can make a compromise and make a tiebreaker at 12-all?”

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times