When you see a great action movie, you pray for a sequel—even if you know it won’t be as good as the original.

Wimbledon has gotten its share of sequels over the years: who can forget the 2011 follow-up to John Isner-Nicolas Mahut, or when Garbiñe Muguruza and Angelique Kerber faced off in dramatic fourth-round clashes two years apart?

But few match-ups quite stirred the soul of SW19 quite like the double feature between Nick Kyrgios and Richard Gasquet. Their first meeting in 2014 showed Kyrgios, a talented youngster at the beginning of a major breakthrough, as all he could be. It was only 12 months later that their rematch, for many foreshadowed the divisive figure he would become.

At just 19 years old in 2014, Kyrgios was playing his first Wimbledon and in the midst of his transition from junior standout to pro circuit mainstay. Seeded 13th over a decade on tour, Gasquet was still in the shadow of contemporaries like Rafael Nadal, but came to the All England Club in fine form, having finished runner-up on grass in Eastbourne.

Surely the French veteran sufficiently experienced to win a second-round match against a teenaged wild card, and for two and a half sets, that seemed to be the case.


The No. 2 Court crowd hadn’t gathered for a drubbing, and roared as Kyrgios scored key breaks in the third—and later fourth—set, sending the two into an indefinite decider.

“I just enjoy having a big crowd, trying to entertain them a bit,” the Aussie would say after the match. “I think you just got to refuse to play bad out there for the crowd; I think you got to find your best tennis sometimes That's what I did today. I think the crowd enjoyed it a lot.”

Playing long before the days of a 10-point tiebreaker, Kyrgios served to stay in the match four times, saving a whopping total of nine match—including one thanks to an overturned Hawkeye challenge—to score an improbable victory, 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5, 10-8. While Gasquet’s one-handed backhand let him down on at least one occasion, the remaining match points came down to gutsy serves and forehands from Kyrgios, who played with every bit of the velocity that makes him appointment viewing to this day.

“I like to sort of engage with the crowd, show a lot of emotion out there,” he said—perhaps without the benefit of hindsight. “Knowing they're going to tough it out with me for that long period really gets me going.

“It makes me enjoy the match a little bit more. I think it definitely helped me today.”

A year removed from his 2014 breakthrough, Kyrgios was already attracting criticism—and throwing it right back.

A year removed from his 2014 breakthrough, Kyrgios was already attracting criticism—and throwing it right back.

Kyrgios would go on to upset Rafael Nadal and become the first wild card to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals since Goran Ivanisevic in 2001. He would return to the All England Club a year later seeded and among the dark horse contenders for the title.

But there were already signs that things had changed: where his 2014 transcripts were full of biographical questions, his presser after defeating Diego Schwartzman was peppered with questions regarding an incident between Kyrgios and the umpire.

“Why are you so caught up about the question?” he asked in frustration when the topic is broached a third time.

Often as he is—and continues to be—prone to outbursts and boundary-crossing behavior, it’s clear the British press believed they had found a live one in the combustible Kyrgios, culminating in his Manic Monday rematch with Gasquet.

Both seeded outside the Top 20, the two could be seen as equals, even if Kyrgios was clearly on the ascendency. Momentum ultimately mattered little when they met again on No. 2 Court. Gasquet rallied from an early break deficit to take another two-set lead, and while Kyrgios threatened to level the match late in the fourth, the Frenchman saved two set points to seal the contest with one last tiebreaker, 7-5, 6-1, 6-7 (9), 7-6 (6).

The 20-year-old would already leave SW19 with fines for racquet abuse and an audible obscenity, but his subsequent press conference would yield a third charge, one that wouldn’t ultimately stick: tanking.


Appearing not to go for a handful of Gasquet serves in the second set, Kyrgios would field multiple questions from journalists in search of a “proper explanation,” citing crowd booing and even deeming him the "bad boy of tennis."

“Do you want to try to return Richard Gasquet's serve?” he challenged back. “I'll give you the racquet and we'll see how many times you can return his serve also...Okay. He served too good.”

The relationship with man and media has hardly improved in the seven years since, particularly now that the ATP tour has witnessed out of pocket conduct en masse in 2022.

Reviving the age-old debate of chicken vs. egg, Kyrgios has argued some of his latest infractions result from unruly crowds, citing racist abuse he experienced at a match in Stuttgart.

“I've been dealing with hate and negativity for a long time, so I don't feel like I owed that person anything,” he said, in between bites of sushi, of one spectator towards whom Kyrgios spat following his five-set win over Paul Jubb. “Like, he literally came to the match to literally just, like, not even support anyone, really. It was more just to, like, stir up and disrespect. That's fine. But if I give it back to you, then that's just how it is.”

In this context it feels strange to write, as Kyrgios has himself said, that he’s in his best mental state of his career. Having previously dealt with suicidal ideation and episodes of self-harm, Kyrgios has struck his own work-life balance by playing a limited schedule and traveling with girlfriend Costeen Hatzi.

But though the original Kyrgios—the one who stated goal was to be world No. 1—may be long gone, the man who remains is still capable of all things incredible, irascible, and sometimes even ingenious: a tragic action hero who, with each new movie, one tunes in to watch in the hope he will at last get out of his own way.