Novak Djokovic triumphed over a roaring Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios
Photo: Getty Images

We’ll never know what Nick Kyrgios is really thinking, late at night when he’s all alone with no one to impress or divert (and he may have many of those nights to myself soon). Maybe he really doesn’t care that he lost his first Grand Slam final, given that most people assumed (and he admitted it) that he doesn’t really care about tennis. But if that were true, would he rededicate himself over the last year or two to put himself in a position to be in the finals? Or win the Australian Open in doubles? Maybe not, or maybe he thinks it sounds great, or maybe that’s what he’s telling himself to excuse not adding the extra five percent.

Maybe he thinks the people watching him are really responsible for the moments he didn’t get right at center court on Sunday, and all the others that have gone wrong in his career. It’s hard to know what reality looks like for him, given how he’s behaved throughout his career. There’s never been a coach who straightens his head to focus on what’s in front of him instead of being on the sidelines, and years in that mire can tarnish almost any view.

Kyrgios is many things, but one of them is not stupid. More likely, he knows that as he looks back on his perhaps only chance to win a Grand Slam, he has failed himself. And all the shouting about his box will never change that. And he yelled at them a lot!

Kyrgios was almost the same in four sets as Novak Djokovic in the biggest match of his life. He was only broken twice, took the first set, and mostly his serve could keep him from getting into too much trouble. Which is quite a feat against the greatest returner of all time that is Djokovic. He always waited for an ace or two when the water got at least a little rippled.

Even when Djokovic pulled him into the deep end, as he does with every opponent, to turn each point into longer and longer rallies designed to crush whoever he’s playing, Kyrgios was almost always right there. Sometimes there was a trip to the zoo, but a trip to the zoo works when you can do things like this:

But the match hinged on two games where Kyrgios led 40-0 or 0-40. The first came in the final game of the second set, where Kyrgios raced to a 0-40 lead with Djokovic serving for the set. It was a chance to level the set, take him to a tiebreak when he was already a set ahead, and perhaps his first real glimpse of the reality of a Wimbledon title. He couldn’t come back and the set was gone.

It only prompted the first real monologue in his players’ box, and they laid the blame for their wasted return at 0-40 on those sitting in the sunglasses rather than himself holding the racquet. There was another in the third set, with Kyrgios leading 40-0 in the penultimate game of the set. One winner from Djoker to make it 40-15 gave Kyrgios a scare and the rest of the game, a set, went awry and from there it was a mountain he never got over.

Kyrgios can look at a lot of things positively. The fact that he was staring down the best player in the world, maybe the best ever, in a way fades the most. He was able to grind with Djokovic for most of the match in a way few people can, and that’s not his game either. At various points in the match, he had Djokovic out of sorts. If he was interested in building on it, it has a pretty good foundation. He is capable of the most sublime tennis on the biggest stages with the most pressure. There may not be a better set of hands on tour.

But is that what he really wants? It was a safe bet he hadn’t made before this tournament. But with these two flashes in the second and third sets, the first of a real lead and the second of a real tie in the Wimbledon final, both create the idea of ​​“Nick Kyrgios, Wimbledon Champion’ seem really doable, was it Nick himself who ran out of faith? Or do you want to? Who absolved themselves of responsibility? Because there would be no excuses from there.

The screams in his box or the referee’s chairs were more desperate than just some of the theatrics Kyrgios usually puts on. This was trying to find port in a storm. Maybe if you channel all that anger outward into something useful, you don’t have to do it inward, where the real culprit is.

Maybe before Kyrgios didn’t care that he was the only one standing in the way of him winning titles and being talked about with the best in the game. The talent is definitely there. But when you put in a sideshow, which is usually done before the third or fourth round, it doesn’t carry much weight. What did it actually cost you?

But when it comes to the final, your first, quite possibly your last, and you will certainly never have a chance to advance to the semi-finals, now there is a real prize. Kyrgios looked and decided it wasn’t for him, then yelled at everyone else to cover it. Now the toll of being a basketball player is all too clear to him. Maybe winning the final would show everyone how much he’s wasted in his career. If he did, where was it before? And most importantly, maybe it showed him and he ran away from it in a flurry of complaints and abuse. I wonder how it will fit.

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