Wimbledon 2022: Nick Kyrgios beats Stefanos Tsitsipas in thrilling – and bad-tempered – battle for the ages
ick Kyrgios and his unique brand of mayhem marched into the fourth round of Wimbledon at the expense of a dazed and confused Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Fourth seed Tsitsipas had taken the first set but around an hour later was on the brink of a meltdown, driven to distraction by the latest antics from the enfant terrible of tennis.
A 6-7 (2) 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7) victory for the world number 40 from Australia does not tell a fraction of the story of a stormy match. At one point Kyrgios even demanded his opponent be defaulted after hitting a ball into the crowd, narrowly missing a spectator.
It was the first marquee match at this year’s Championships but at times it bore more resemblance to a three-ring circus.
“Honestly it was a hell of an atmosphere and an amazing match,” said Kyrgios. “I felt like I was the favourite coming in. I had my tactics. It was a hell of a match. “He was getting frustrated at times, but it’s a frustrating sport. Whatever happens on the court, I love him.”
A chaotic encounter began in relative calm with Kyrgios putting in a near-flawless display of serving – including an under-armer between the legs – in the first set. Kyrgios had dropped just four points behind his serve, only to lose his way in the tie-break as Tsitsipas edged ahead.
However, in between time Kyrgios demanded a new line judge following one bad call and complained to spectators about another official before serving, at one point prompting Tsitsipas to walk back to his towel amid pantomime boos from the crowd.
But it was all more PG than X-rated at this stage, and some of the tennis both men were playing was breathtaking. At 4-4 two poor Kyrgios drop shots gave Tsitsipas a rare chance to break, but a second serve ace quickly snuffed it out.
The next game summed Kyrgios up to a tee; a code violation for swearing followed by a stunning winner from a Tsitsipas overhead to take the second set. The sublime immediately returned to the utterly ridiculous, Tsitsipas angrily hitting a ball into the stands to earn a warning of his own, and Kyrgios insisting he be defaulted.
While Kyrgios argued with all and sundry, Tsitsipas took a bathroom break, came back out and complained about the positioning of the towels. When the tennis did eventually resume Kyrgios broke for 3-1 with a zinger of a forehand winner.
Tsitsipas lost his head completely when Kyrgios held with another underarm serve, lashing out at the ball to earn a point deduction. As Tsitsipas complained bitterly to the umpire Kyrgios stood on the baseline, almost whistling innocently as if butter would not melt.
Moments later he was bowing to the crowd after landing a drop shot on top of the net, before it fell Tsitsipas’ side to help clinch the third set and sum up the Greek’s luck. With the clock ticking towards 9pm, the roof was closed and when hostilities resumed Kyrgios crashed down an ace to take the fourth set to another tie-break.
It was a scintillating climax finished by a drop shot, a wild celebration and confirmation that the Kyrgios roadshow will rumble into the second week.