By Paul Lagan at Centre Court , Wimbledon.
Kyrgios v Nakashima
4-6, 6-4, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2
Nick Kyrgios came through a tough five setter against American Brandon Nakashima on Centre Court.
He said: “I was never near my best. I’ve played a lot of tennis and I was pleased to come through it. I’ve never lost a five-set match at Wimbledon
“I just need a glass of wine tonight before I think of the next opponent.”
The so-called bad boy of tennis Nick Kyrgios was anything but in the first set against his US opponent Brandon Nakashima.
In fact, he was a good as any Boy Scout would be expected to behave.
Perhaps that’s why after a succession of personal service game holds by both players, the Australian suddenly felt like he should be in a charitable mood, just like a Boy Scout, and gave way his serve when at 5-5. Nakashima was not in the Scouts as far as I know and was not in such a charitable mood and served out his game successfully to win the opening set.
Games went with serve in set two before Kyrgios found a bit on venom in his returns, destabilising the US man, who after surviving a set point, launch a return so long, it could have reached the River Wandle but for the back boards of the court.
It was back to serve, return smash and point, as serves went as expected.
But this left Kyrgios serving for the second set at 5-3.
At 15 all Kyrgios produced a lovely drop shot for a point, but failed when trying it again. Nakashima slide to the ball and sent it down the line.
But The Australian produced a fine serve which was returned into the net when at advantage and the set was Kyrgios’.
At 2-3 on serve, Kyrgios called for a physiotherapist and a medical timeout was given at the change over.
Kyrgios seemed to be labouring whenever he wasn’t attempting to hit the ball – s if to conserve energy.
Games continued to go with serve with unforced errors rather than winners the point decider.
But eventually the set comes down to its denouement and at 5-6 the Australian was serving to save the set and to take it into a toe-breaker.
A perfect service game did just that.
A mini-break gave Kyrgios a 3-2 lead on his two-point serve.
The first was an ace to make it 4-2, the second, following a change over was a second serve winner to make it 5-2.
A wonder return down the line gave him set point which he duly achieved when he returned a cross-court winner, leaving Nakashima crestfallen.
While the Australian won his serve in the opener of the fourth set, Nakashima struggled to hold his but did – eventually.
The fourth set, like the previous ones, were devoid of any sustained jeopardy as serves were won with relative ease.
The occasional piece of inventiveness- always from Kyrgios lifted the otherwise subdued crowd.
The obligatory ‘USA’ bellowing from a single Nakashima fan suggesting that neither player quite. Poured the crowds favour.
Jeopardy suddenly reared its head at 3-3 with Kyrgios going 15-40m down before suddenly giving his service away, like the boy scout of the first set.
Nakashima won his service leaving Kyrgios needing to hold his, but he quickly went love – 40 down to give the US man three set points,
He saved two before whacking a simple forearm drove long and wide.
The third game of the final set brought Kyrgios alive. He quoted a line call which looked dubious, but when Hawkeye produced its image it was well in. This infuriated the Australian who had a short conversation with the umpire.
However it was Nakashima who suffered ultimately, losing the game to go a break down at 1-2.
Sensing this was his time, Kyrgios seemingly upped his game, and when he won his service game, he then broke Nakashima again – sending a thumping backhand cross-court winner to the edge of the line to make it 4-1.
He screamed at his team as if to say, ‘I’ve got this’.
Of course he had to win his service game and he became more excitable with every point won.
An ace secured the game to make it 5-1 and a game from victory.
But that game was put off as Nakashima won his serve.
Nakashima won the first two points, before a brilliant rally saw a delicate cross-Court winner by Kyrgios after his dept drop shot was met by his opponent.
Nakashima then drove his ball into the net to level at 30 all before an ace set up match point.
And after three hours and 10 minutes, Kyrgios send his second serve deep, the ball was returned before he slotted hime into the far court for a winner, the game, the set and the match.
Top picture: Kyrgios v Nakashima Picture: Paul Lagan