Has there ever been a turning point as unlikely, and temporarily unfortunate, as the one that finally led to Nick Kyrgios’ first-round win over Denis Istomin on Tuesday?
The match had reached the middle of the fourth set. Kyrgios had won the first two in tiebreakers; Istomin had won the third, also in a tiebreaker—over the course of two hours, neither player had broken the other’s serve. Kyrgios had begun the match looking more focused and positive than normal. He hit the ball with conviction. He made his drop shots, rained down 130-m.p.h. second-serve aces, and kept Istomin off balance with his typically bizarre and seemingly self-defeating shot selection. He even celebrated winning points with fist-pumps and determined shakes of his racquet.
Kyrgios had come to Wimbledon touting his chances and talking about how much happier and better-prepared he was than in years past.
“I feel good. I’m in a good place right now on the grass,” he said at Queen’s Club last week, expressing satisfaction with his semifinal runs there and in Stuttgart. Had the New Nick that the tennis world has been waiting for finally arrived?
WATCH—Nick Kyrgios, after his first-round win: