Nick Kyrgios, l’enfant terrible du tennis australien, enfin sage ?

Nick Kyrgios, l’enfant terrible du tennis australien, enfin sage ?

Australian Nick Kyrgios in his quarter-final against Chilean Cristian Garin on July 6 at Wimbledon.

With a sense of “measure” that characterizes him, Nick Kyrgios had trumpeted to whoever wanted to hear him: “It will probably be the most watched game of all time. » On the eve of playing his very first Grand Slam semi-final, the terrible child of Australian tennis was nervous at the idea of ​​facing Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon on Friday July 8.

Alas, Thursday evening, the Spaniard came to shower the hopes of his younger brother. And those of the All England Lawn Tennis Club with, which salivated from the reunion between two players who almost everything opposes. Defeated by an abdominal tear, the world number 4 was forced to forfeit: “Even though I have had many times in my career to continue playing in very complicated circumstances, in this specific case, if I continued, the injury would only get worse,” he justified.

Read also: Rafael Nadal withdraws ahead of Wimbledon semi-final

At the beginning of June, the 36-year-old Spaniard had already won his fourteenth Roland-Garros on one foot – since treated by radiofrequency (which numbs painful nerves). Heroism has limits: without an abdominal belt and therefore without the possibility of serving well, the enterprise this time was futile, especially against an opponent with a green thumb.

Since he set foot on the London lawn, Nick Kyrgios has had the best fortnight of his career and finds himself propelled into the final, where he will face Serbian Novak Djokovic on Sunday. After his quarter-final victory over the Chilean Cristian Garin (43e world), Wednesday, he gave himself as rarely on the court, unusually moved.

Seen by many on and off the circuit as a wasted talent – ​​starting with his glorious compatriots who see him, in his words, as a ” couple “ –, the Australian was not far from proving them right: “I never thought I would be in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam, I thought I had missed my chances. I didn’t aim for the heights earlier in my career and maybe I wasted some time,” admitted the player back down to the 40e world place – he had risen to 13e rank in 2016.

“I grew up, I feel like a veteran”

Paradoxically, it is in this setting steeped in history where one does not trifle with traditions that Nick Kyrgios, apostle of irreverence, had revealed himself to the general public. In 2014, the 19-year-old teenager eliminated in the round of 16… Rafael Nadal, then world number one. At the time, this panache victory of the 144e world had amazed well beyond the dapper borders of the All England Club.

Because before becoming a player who divides on the circuit and plays the “intermittent of the show”, follower of antics and “punchlines” on the courts and elsewhere, the former world number one junior was above all a precocious kid, full of talent. A lead serve from the height of his 1.93 m, a forehand that slams and a good dose of impudence, ensuring the spectacle with great reinforcement of “tweeners” (blows between the legs) and services with the spoon, between others.

Read also Tennis: in Marseille, Kyrgios lifts his first trophy

Since his successful baptism on the Center Court eight years ago, the Australian has had a string of brilliant moves, displaying a surplus of motivation at each opportunity to knock out the headliners (he has the best percentage of matches won against to the Nadal-Federer-Djokovic trio), without knowing the existence of the words rigor and consistency.

On Wednesday, the 27-year-old right-hander returned to this sinusoidal trajectory: “If you had asked someone if I was capable of going to the Wimbledon semi-finals, I think everyone would probably have said: ‘No, he doesn’t have the mental capacity, he doesn’t have the mental capacity. not the physical capacity, he does not have the discipline, etc.”, he developed. The times I’ve gone this far in a Grand Slam [quarts à Wimbledon 2014 et Open d’Australie 2015]I haven’t been able to sort things out. But I grew up. People often forget that I’ve been on the circuit for almost ten years. I feel a bit like a veteran. »

Out to the pub until dawn

At the beginning of the week, he had exhumed in front of the journalists an anecdote which alone sums up the character: “There was a time when I had to be dragged out of a pub at 4am to play a second round of Wimbledon against Nadal [en 2019, défaite contre l’Espagnol en quatre sets]. I’ve come a long way, that’s for sure…”

He then continued the introspection at length in a press conference after his quarter-final, abandoning a once arrogant tone: “There was a time when I was almost done with sports, recalled Nick Kyrgios, who revealed earlier this year on Instagram that he had self-destructive and suicidal thoughts at the 2019 Australian Open. At the beginning of the year, I had lost the love of the game, lost the spark. Then some things changed in my life. I feel like I’m playing my best tennis and feeling good about myself. I feel good, I feel calm, I feel mature. The road has been long. »

Farewell to “kyrgioseries”? Not so fast… The Australian drew the whistles of the public as soon as he entered the running on the London lawn, spitting in the direction of a spectator, then performing a prank with the Greek Stéfanos Tsitsipas in the third round, between shouting matches with the referee, penalty point, ball thrown into the audience and request for disqualification. In less than a week, the person concerned had to pay a fine of 14,000 dollars (13,700 euros).

And his torments are likely to continue regardless of the outcome of this fortnight: accused of assault by a former girlfriend, he was summoned to appear in court in Canberra in early August.

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