Wimbledon: Nick Kyrgios defeated Brandon Nakashima in five sets to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals, but he was plagued by a shoulder injury that could jeopardise his chances of progressing further.
After the drama and recriminations of his match against Stefanos Tsitsipas, this was a much calmer affair, with Kyrgios largely controlling his behaviour on Centre Court to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time in seven years.
During the first set, it was clear that Kyrgios was in pain, but he recovered to win the decider against 20-year-old American Nakashima, winning 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 to advance to the quarter-finals against Chile’s Cristian Garin.
“It wasn’t near my best performance, level-wise, but I’m just super, super happy to get through,” Kyrgios said on court.
“I’ve never lost the fifth set here. Honestly, that’s what I was thinking about. I was like, I’ve been here before I’ve done it before and I came through again.”
Asked about facing Garin, he said: “I’m not going to think about that. I’m going to need a glass of wine tonight for sure.”
Despite the shoulder problem, there was still some showboating – an underarm serve in only his second service game and a completely unnecessary between-the-legs shot in the fifth game of the second set – but it was clear Kyrgios had other plans.
The 27-year-old began grimacing and holding his shoulder, and a half-hearted service game saw him broken to lose the first set.
After three games of the second set, he called the trainer and took a couple of pills, by which time he was unexpectedly a break ahead thanks to two double faults from his opponent.
Even a bad line call elicited only a raised eyebrow from Nick Kyrgios, who began to look more at ease and increase his service speeds as he levelled the match.
After five games of the third set, the trainer returned to the court, and Kyrgios did take a medical time-out to have his shoulder worked on.
The trainer continued to massage the Australian’s shoulder at the end of each set, but he was still serving well and was two sets to one up after an excellent tie-break.
Nakashima, whose expression had barely changed throughout, stayed in the match and was rewarded with a break of serve in the seventh game of the fourth set.
Kyrgios let his emotions show by ranting at his support camp, and his focus was completely gone when he dropped serve again two games later, rolling in serves, including one underarm effort, and slapping groundstrokes away.
He came alive again at the start of the decider, breaking Nakashima’s serve to lead 2-1 after briefly sparring with umpire Nico Helwerth over a line call and being told to “stop moaning” by one spectator.
When he broke again two games later, the crowd was completely behind him, and he did not look back as he maintained his record of never losing a five-set match at Wimbledon.
He has previously reached the last eight at two Grand Slams, first at Wimbledon in 2014 and then at the Australian Open the following year, losing both times.
Kyrgios started during his press conference that he is mentally prepared to go even further at the All England Club.
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