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Nick Kyrgios remains perfect in Wimbledon five-setters by edging Brandon Nakashima for first major singles quarterfinal berth since 2015
The Australian battled past the 20-year-old and a right shoulder issue to advance, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-2, on Monday at the All England Club.
Published Jul 04, 2022
Less than 48 hours after clinching a spicy contest over Stefanos Tsitsipas, Nick Kyrgios motored on in a much milder matchup—conduct wise—to reach a Wimbledon quarterfinal for the first time in eight years.
Kyrgios battled past Brandon Nakashima and a troubled right shoulder to prevail, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-2, moving to 6-0 in five-setters at the All England Club. He previously overcame wild card Paul Jubb in a decisive set to launch his campaign last week. The Australian’s bid for a first major singles semifinal will come against Cristian Garin, who saved two match points to deny Kyrgios’ compatriot Alex de Minaur, 2-6, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (10-6).
"I've played a lot of tennis in the last month and a half. I'm just proud of the way I steadied the ship," Kyrgios said in his on-court interview. "He came firing in the fourth set, his level didn't drop. My five-set record's pretty good. Honestly, that's what I was thinking about, I've never lost a five-set match here. I've been here before, I've done it before and I came through again."
Nakashima came out for his Centre Court debut by maintaining his usual demeanor—controlled, stoic, focused—a stark contrast to what Kyrgios stared down in the previous round. And with it, neither player looked at a break point in the first nine games as tension slowly burned.
Before serving to stay in the set, Kyrgios was spotted grabbing his right shoulder. He quickly fell behind 0-40 thanks to a trio of deep returns by the American, and two points later, a long forehand from Kyrgios ended the set.
Nakashima soon wobbled when two doubles faults and a shanked mid-court forehand contributed to dropping serve for the first time. Kyrgios then consulted with a physio to discuss his arm issue. “I just needed some painkillers,” he could be heard saying. Kyrgios consolidated at love and rode out the advantage to level the clash.
Five games into the third set, Kyrgios called for the physio again to receive treatment during a medical timeout. Further rub downs were provided on the next two changeovers.
“I’m not a fan of it. At the change of ends, just using the time to get a massage, to me it’s loss of condition,” Tim Henman said while calling the match for BBC. “That is very much part of the challenge of being a professional player, playing in these Grand Slams over two weeks, best of five-set matches.”
In the eventual tiebreak, Nakashima gifted the first mini break with another double fault, and Kyrgios rolled with it. Booming backhand and forehand winners propelled the 27-year-old to gain his first lead on the scoreboard.
Looks on return continued to be kept at bay, until 3-3, when back-to-back forehand miscues from Kyrgios gave Nakashima a 15-40 look. The San Diego native made a strong forehand return and soon had the break in hand when Kyrgios pushed a decelerated backhand wide.
A rant directed to his box preceded a perplexing finish to the set when Kyrgios served two games later. Two lazy errors put him a 0-40 hole, and though a underhand serve worked in the end, a mistimed forehand at 30-40 confirmed a decider would be played.
A wasted 40-15 lead on serve ultimately undid Nakashima at 1-1 in the fifth, as did a duo of contrasting shots from the opposition. A tremendous inside-out backhand return and creative forehand slice dipping low enough to force an error provided Kyrgios the upper hand, and from there, a sprint across the line saw him wrap up the win after three hours and 11 minutes.
"I was physically a little bit tired towards the end, but he definitely played some of his best tennis in the fifth set," Nakashima assessed at his press conference.
Kyrgios finished with 35 aces and three double faults, winning five more points in the closely-contested battle.
"I need a glass of wine, for sure tonight," he quipped to an amused audience.
Kyrgios and Garin are due to meet for the first time. The Chilean has made the most of circumstances beyond his control this tournament, as he was originally due to face 2021 finalist Matteo Berrettini in the first round. The Italian arrived in London by winning a pair of grass-court titles, but withdrew after testing positive for COVID-19.