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Nick Kyrgios motivated to avoid Grand Slam lull after winning start at Citi Open
The Wimbledon runner-up blitzed American Marcos Giron in straight sets, spurred on both by bad memories in Washington, D.C. from last year and a desire to back up his breakthrough major result.
Published Aug 03, 2022
WATCH: Kyrgios made a winning return to singles action in Washington, D.C. and booked his spot in the second round in straight sets.
WASHINGTON—Nick Kyrgios finally climbed the mountain to reach his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon, and the Aussie sounds ready to keep climbing after a dominant start to his hard-court campaign at the Citi Open.
“Sometimes people play a slam final or win a Grand Slam and they struggle for the next six months, but I feel like I don't want to be one of those players,” said the 2019 champion after a 6-3, 6-2 win over Marcos Giron. “I want to be one of those players that rides with it and continues to play well. I don't want to have any lulls or down matches after a Grand Slam. It's a small window, so I'm going to use it.”
Wearing his now-signature red Air Jordan hat to press, Kyrgios has slowly built back up to peak performance after finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic at SW19, first vacationing in the Bahamas and then opting to play only doubles through what turned into another trophy run with good friend Thanasi Kokkinakis last week in Atlanta.
I'm having a great year I think if Wimbledon had points, I think I'd be around Top 15, Top 20 in the world. I definitely feel like I'm playing that level of tennis, if not Top 10, Top 5 at the moment. Nick Kyrgios
“I think playing doubles is always, especially playing with a good friend, it's always enjoyable,” he said. “But for me, I'd rather play doubles and have that kind of competitive juices flowing rather than going out there and practicing. I feel like it's obviously more stimulating for me to go out there and compete and obviously still play for money. To pick up another title with Thanasi, it's huge.
“For me, it definitely helped me today. Came a bit slow, but then I started to have my eye in on return. My serve has always been great, but especially last couple of months it's been on another level.”
Kyrgios is keeping up his doubles momentum with good friend Jack Sock, and is surrounded by supporters in D.C.—not to mention a stadium full of fans, including one or two who gave him some serving tips on match point.
“In 2019 I was just doing that on match point, just asking someone in the crowd. I think it's just a cool experience for, you know, someone that's paid money to come watch you play and potentially to go home with that memory, if it's a young kid or an older lady like today, I think that's something that's pretty cool. I wish I had that experience when I was watching tennis matches.”
Beyond aiming to back up his unforgettable Wimbledon fortnight, Kyrgios had redemption on his mind after ending his title defense in the opening round last year.
“I think I had such a bad experience, and a lot of stuff was going on last year around this time that I just didn't have a good time on a tennis court at all. I was really struggling, wasn't enjoying my tennis. I was out of shape, losing a lot of matches.
“I just really wanted to force myself to have high energy today and pull out a performance. I know that I'm capable of playing great tennis. Honestly, my confidence was a bit low coming out today just because just being on that court again. I got disgraced last year first round, and it was tough to stomach after coming off a win.”
With another American in Tommy Paul up next, Kyrgios is looking to continue maxing out on a minimal schedule: in his last six events, he’s reached the quarterfinals (or better) five times. Despite coming up short against Djokovic, the former world No. 13 is beyond eager for another bite of the apple.
“I'm having a great year,” he said. “I think if Wimbledon had points, I think I'd be around Top 15, Top 20 in the world. I definitely feel like I'm playing that level of tennis, if not Top 10, Top 5 at the moment.
“I feel like a Grand Slam final doesn't come around so often for us normal players. Obviously, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic played a ton of Grand Slam finals, but that was like the golden opportunity I felt for me. Going up a set as well. There are so many things I would have done differently I think now that I have digested that match, but I'm doing all the right things to put myself in that position again. I think I'm doing that, and my whole team is helping me achieve that goal.
“I think we all know that it's possible now. I don't think we thought it was possible to contend for Grand Slams, but now it's a genuine thing. I think all about motivation and we are on the same page.”
As the media marveled by just how motivated he sounded, Kyrgios cracks, “It’s taken me 27 years.”