Nick Kyrgios sets up Wimbledon clash with Rafael Nadal after eventful opening round win

The Australian continued his 100% record in five set matches at Wimbledon (Picture: Getty)

Nick Kyrgios came through a hugely entertaining first-round match against fellow Aussie Jordan Thompson at Wimbledon on Tuesday, winning 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 7-6 (12-10) 0-6 6-1 to potentially set up a clash with World No.2 Rafael Nadal in the next round.

The younger Australian didn’t start well, with Thompson breaking early on, and the customary trick shots he is so quick to bring out did more harm than good; ludicrous between-the-legs attempts straight into the net followed by ill-judged lobs and drop shots.

But slowly Kyrgios’ booming serve returned and all the flair shots started to hit their mark. He still looked tetchy, calling out a spectator for talking too loudly, but he broke in the same game and suddenly had a smile on his face – and No.3 Court in the palm of his hand.

Kyrgios flirted the line between genius and insanity over five absorbing sets (Picture: Getty)

A dominant display in the tie break sealed the first set, but as is so often the way with Kyrgios, the unpredictable, impudent side of his game is never far away and he was broken midway through the second set – largely his own doing.

The playfulness with the crowd stopped, and the complaints started, criticising line calls and calling out the spectator he’d clashed with earlier, telling the umpire: ‘So loud, that chick over there. She was having just like leisurely conversations.’

Thompson wrapped up the set with little fuss and Kyrgios called for a medical time out, having been holding his thigh. At this point the match felt like it was on a knife edge, with Kyrgios impatient to get the match over with: win or lose.

But this time he dug in, taking the third set all the way before delivering a truly memorable performance in the tie break, winning 12-10. There were moments of genius and calamity, Kyrgios collapsing to the floor after one monster rally and doing a lap of the court after another, his box-office status clear to see.

Again though, it was one step forward and two back as he started the fourth set in sloppy fashion, chastising himself as he was broken in the very first game: ‘Way to start strong, good job.’ A few minutes later, he was broken again – and again after that – as a fifth set became a mere formality, the younger Aussie not even trying.

Fresh from a bagel, a strong start was required and this time Kyrgios learnt his lesson, holding his serve and then breaking in the fourth. Thompson had put up a strong resistance throughout, but now he was fading.

Another break and suddenly Kyrgios was cruising into the second round in a manner that was completely at odds with the three hours and 26 minutes of drama and strife that had come before. The victory maintains Kyrgios’ 100% record in five-set matches and he will face either Yuichi Sugita or Nadal next – who play later on Tuesday.


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