Four words prove Nick Kyrgios never stood a chance at Wimbledon
Nick Kyrgios’ electrifying run as the hottest show at Wimbledon fizzled out on Sunday morning when he was forced to retire during his third round clash against Felix Auger Aliassime.
The Aussie tennis star was on fire as he won the first set 6-2, but suffered a painful abdominal injury in the second set and called it quits before the start of the third.
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Plenty have said Kyrgios has the talent to win a grand slam but the truth is he’s never had the endurance to go on a seven-match winning streak across two gruelling weeks — and so it proved to be again at the All England Club.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone but it certainly shouldn’t be something Australian tennis fans get angry about.
Kyrgios became the voice of reason last year during the pandemic and won plenty of admirers for the way he called out fellow players for breaking the rules as he decided to stay home in Canberra for much of 2020.
He returned to the court for the Australian Open but took five more months off before flying to London, touching down just four days before his first round match. To some, that was leaving it too late, but Kyrgios didn’t want to spend any more time in the players’ restrictive bio-secure bubble than he had to, because he knew it wouldn’t be good for his mental state.
It led to questions about his preparation, especially after such a long hiatus following the Australian Open, but Kyrgios was adamant he did the work Down Under before coming to Wimbledon. Getting injured against Aliassime was just rough luck.
Kyrgios couldn’t go on.Source:AFP
“People always say, ‘He’s not professional, he could have done more in the gym, he could have done more rehab’. But that’s what makes me, and the way I play — my game style,” Kyrgios said after his withdrawal.
“I honestly did all I could to prepare for Wimbledon. I was training a little bit back home. I could have come here earlier but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to go in the bubble earlier, I didn’t want to force that on my girlfriend, my best friend, my manager, any of that.
“I got here, I did what I could. I battled through, my body just wasn’t where it needed to be to continue to be at this level and beat these quality players.”
Those four words — “I didn’t want to” — sum up why Kyrgios, regardless of how well he was playing, never stood a chance of going deep at Wimbledon. Tennis isn’t his first priority, instead preferring to put his mental health, and his girlfriend and best mate — who he brought along as his entourage — above on-court success.
Just as admirable as the intention is the honesty with which Kyrgios has explained his position. After he and Venus Williams teamed up to win their opening mixed doubles match, Kyrgios revealed the physical toll he was dealing with.
“Man, I’m hurting,” Kyrgios said. “Physically, I’m actually getting out of bed and I’m struggling.
“Obviously this sport demands a high amount of preparation and training.
“It’s a physical week. I’m doing the best I can. I’m trying to eat well, I’m trying to get some rest, I’m trying to recover as much as I can, and stay hydrated. I’m doing all the right things.”
But no amount of apples and water can make up for missing so much tennis when everyone else has been busting their backsides all year.
That the 26-year-old, after being absent from the court for much of the past 15 months, could take the first set off world No. 15 Aliassime says a lot about why rivals are worried to be drawn against him. Kyrgios said he was playing unbelievably well before being cut down by injury as the Canadian young gun struggled to handle his monster serve.
“My game’s there. My game is obviously there,” Kyrgios said. “He’s 15 in the world and I’m making the guy look pretty average in the first set, and I haven’t played a tournament in six months.
“My game is there, my confidence is high as ever. It’s just my body, I’ve got to get it right. Whether that takes a week or two weeks, it is what it is.”
Kyrgios gave Aliassime a major scare in the first round.Source:Getty Images
Tennis journalist Jon Wertheim referenced Kyrgios’ remarks after his first round win over Ugo Humbert when suggesting the Aussie was always going to struggle physically.
“Kyrgios is right. ‘Not bad for a part-time player’. But when you train part-time, you’re vulnerable to injury,” Wertheim tweeted.
It’s a perfectly valid point — and 100 per cent true. But it’s not something anyone should feel aggrieved about. With the decisions he’s made since Covid-19 struck, Kyrgios was always going to be at Wimbledon for a good time, not a long time.
And those good times were seriously entertaining. The dramatic win against Humbert, spread across two days, asking a spectator where he should serve en route to beating Gianluca Mager and the way the world fell in love with him and Williams as a mixed doubles pairing have all provided major highlights of the grand slam.
Kyrgios came to put on a show and he did just that. He — along with everyone else — just wishes it could have gone on a little longer. But that was always a long shot.
“I was devastated (to retire), obviously,” Kyrgios said. “Going from the bad boy of tennis and all this sort of stuff to now one of the crowd favourites — I knew they wanted me to keep playing and I tried to give everything I absolutely could.
“But I knew the more I served the worse it was getting and it was heartbreaking for me.
“The way I was playing I could have done pretty cool things this week, but it is what it is. It was tough to leave that crowd.”
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