Millennium Post

Kyrgios comes up trumps

Wimbledon: Call him cranky, call him cantankerous. On Saturday night, maverick Aussie Nick Kyrgios produced an adrenaline-felted performance against Stefano Tsitsipas to enter the round of 16 with a hard-earned 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) win at Wimbledon.

There was no dearth of drama, excitement, histrionics in a match where the two contestants treated the audience to everything. There was tennis on view as the main course, but there was also a mental warfare going on, where, for once, it was Kyrgios who showed a cooler head.

When Tsitsipas whacked a back into the crowd in anger plus frustration, it was clear Kyrgios had won the mental battle. Tennis is not just about forehands and backhands. A lot has to do with mental approach, handling the pressure and producing the goods.

One normally sees Kyrgios hissing and cussing on the court. Saturday night was different. Kyrgios stayed cool but Tsitsipas was battling a hard opponent and his own frayed nerves cost him a lot.

For old-timers who have seen players thrown tantrums at Wimbledon, from Ilie Nastase to John McEnroe (now in the commentary booth) and then Crazy Croat Goran Ivanisevic, what one saw in a crucial contest between Kyrgios and Tsitsipas was different.

If Kyrgios was rushing to the umpire time and again, he was well within his boundaries. For someone who was not fancied to win this match, the Australian's entry into the second week at Wimbledon assumes great significance.

"Bit of a roller coaster, but I thought I played well. I am really happy to be in the second week of a (Grand) Slam again here for the fourth time. I think the hard work and just the way I have been playing on grass is paying off," said Kyrgios.

Tsitsipas said at the post match conference, he felt bullied by Kyrgios. A bit surprising that since tennis matches are not about great behaviour only. The opponent has the right to use all the tricks in the trade to play unsettling games.

"I am not sure I bullied him. He (Tsitsipas) was the one hitting the ball at me. He was the one who hit (a ball) at the spectator, and smashed one ball out of the stadium. I was just going back and forth to the umpire for a bit," said Kyrgios.

Inconsistency has been the biggest worry for Kyrgios over the years. He hates travel and to be based in Australia and be away for eight months from home fot tennis is not his cup of tea.

"I don't like to travel much. I have not been able to produce my best tennis in consistent number of times in this year, "admitted Kyrgios.

On Saturday, the man who has taken the tennis tour by storm in 2022, Rafael Nadal, was on cruise control on Centre Court. The second seed turned on a master class against Italian Lorenzo Sonego for a smooth passage into the fourth round. His 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win was as smooth as a ride in a furious Ferrari on the outskirts of London. Pretty much, Nadal was in cruise control, not being tested by his opponent.

Later, Nadal spoke about his friendship and rivalry with Roger Federer. Federer has been away from tennis, though, on Sunday, he was in attendance at Centre Court as a guest. Wimbledon's hallowed Centre Court is revered for its tradition and tranquility. The centenary celebration (100 years) of Cente Court was emotional and special. After all, if Lords is the Mecca of tennis, Wimbledon is worshipped for being the best Grand Slam in the calendar.

Frenchwoman Alize Cornet stirred the hornet's nest by outgunning top seed Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-2. Everyone has read about Alice in Wonderland, but this match was about Alize in wonderland. She was gutsy, and did not hesitate in taking on the Polish star.

Call it pressure of expectation or call it being hyped too much, Swiatek failed to produce quality tennis. Her 37-match winning streak snapped, which, in a way, is good. She is extremely talented and the find of the women's tour, but to keep winning and never lose is not good.

Wimbledon does produce that surprise result and Swiatek will learn a lot from her loss. Most important, every opponent on court can be dangerous.

"I know I didn't play good tennis," said the world number one, Swiatek. "I was pretty confused about my tactics. As a solid player, she (Cornet) used that pretty well. For sure, it wasn't a good performance from me," said Swiatek.

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