Nick Kyrgios rolls into Wimbledon amid typical controversy

Brash Australian found himself in trouble again on day one

Nick Kyrgios enters the court to face Diego Schwartzman in his first round match at Wimbledon yesterday. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Nick Kyrgios enters the court to face Diego Schwartzman in his first round match at Wimbledon yesterday. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

 

At January’s Australian Open he became a national figure, his forehand ripping him a route to the quarter-finals, where he was stopped by Andy Murray. In his fourth round and on his way back to win in five sets, he shouted at one spectator to “get off your f***ing phone”. He berated others for leaving halfway through the match.

This week he discarded the courtesy car and bought himself a scooter to buzz through the London traffic to the south west of the city, while recently he expressed his disdain for abstaining from sex before matches before splitting with his coach, Todd Larkham, just before the tournament began. No one can deny it. He has front.

With the bling and the brash, and sometimes flash, game, he’s not everyone’s Wimbledon photo-fit but Nick Kyrgios likes to be seen. He likes to be heard. He came to Wimbledon last year as a wild card, beat Rafa Nadal and made it to the quarter-final. He likes to be noticed.

Yesterday, he orchestrated a bewitching two sets against Diego Schwartzman, who is listed as 5ft 7in but must have felt disconcerted when he had to look up at the ball boy handing him his towel in the back court.

Whipping action

He has finesse, placement and power off his forehand, a loose, whipping action that can find incredible angles. He often runs around to hit forehands and he can bang down aces at 133mph. Schwartzman, earnest but limited, was the perfect canvas for the Kyrgios colour and fire.

The son of a Greek father and Malaysian mother, off court he may want to metaphorically run with the bulls but his game and his propensity to engage with the crowd, umpires and linesmen give him an irresistible, anti-establishment rub.

Second Captains

To the backdrop of 22 singing Australians directly behind the baseline, a beery boisterous match then turned a little sour after a line-call dispute early in the third sent Kyrgios mumbling to himself and the crowd. That sent a little negative energy around the sunlit court, a bowl-shaped amphitheatre tucked in the far corner of the All England Club.

Because his run into Wimbledon was far from energetic, losing to Stan Wawrinka in the first round of Queens before defaulting from Stuttgart (elbow) and Nottingham (fitness), it made this only his fourth tour-level event on grass.

After a stand-off with the umpire, where Kyrgios more or less turned away as if to say “talk to the hand” as the 22 yellow-shirted Aussies stood up and chanted “a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down”, he set to work again.

The third set went to a tiebreak but by then the world number 29 was back in rhythm. It took him longer to win the final set than the opening two but after 43 more minutes he was home and dry.

Kyrgios was told afterwards that after his discussion with the umpire, he seemed to say “dirty scum” out loud.

“I wasn’t referring to the ref at all there,” he said. “It was towards myself. But, yeah, obviously I knew you guys were going to ask me about that.”

Outrage

“Why are you so caught up about the question,” he replied. It was an interesting thing to call yourself, he was told. “Cause I can,” he replied.

Never mind the outrage he generated by calling the chair umpire “a ref”, there’s a possibility the 20-year-old could get fined for his outburst. “Dirty scum” after a dispute with the umpire could so easily be misconstrued as being directed at the official. “Wouldn’t bother me one bit,” he quipped.

As with world number one Novak Djokovic, who clinically opened on Centre Court against Philipp Kohlschreiber in three sets, Kyrgios was pleased with the straight-set win. He’s also encouraged by his ranking, which languished at 144 in the world at around the time he beat Nadal a year ago.

“Well, you know, this time around, I feel I have experience,” he said. “Being two sets to love down at Wimbledon, coming back, I’ve done that. Winning a tight first round last year, I’ve done that. Beating the number one player in the world [Nadal] on Centre Court, I’ve done that.”

Watch him.

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