Feisty Australian Nick Kyrgios came through a five-set first-round Wimbledon thriller against British wildcard Paul Jubb on Tuesday as his fearsome serve, including 30 aces, eventually overpowered the 22-year-old 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-7(3), 7-5.
It was an unexpectedly testing examination for Kyrgios as the British outsider kept his cool in the face of the Australian’s usual verbal antics, but fell just short.
“It was tough, he had nothing to lose and he played exceptional tennis at times,” Kyrgios said. “He’s going to be a good player for sure, I’m just happy to get through.
“Playing here is a lot of fun. I talk a lot on the court but off the court I’m not too bad.”
Kyrgios looked pretty flat in losing the opening set to a player whose career highlight was winning the U.S. NCAA college title in 2019, and in his frustration he hammered a ball high and out of Court Three.
Kyrgios is a player the word “chuntering” was invented for as he seems to need to keep up a running monologue to get himself motivated.
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He took great offence at a single fan uttering an almost polite boo, complaining to the umpire “You don’t accept a hat with two logos on but you accept disrespect of an athlete?”.
Kyrgios then complained about a line judge “reporting him” to the umpire. “Not one person has come here today to hear her speak,” he said.
The chat appeared to energise him as he began to find his range in a strong second set but Jubb refused to lie down, being edged out in the third and going toe to toe to take the fourth on the back of a strong tiebreak. The Briton, in only his second Wimbledon appearance having lost in the first round three years ago, was ice-cool in ignoring any potential distraction from Kyrgios’s running commentary, which included another extended whinge over a non-signalled net cord in the tiebreak.
It is now eight years since Kyrgios stunned then world number one Rafa Nadal to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals but he has never matched that since and has reached only one other Grand Slam quarter – in Australia in 2015.
The 27-year-old has slipped to world number 40 but his serve remains out of the top drawer, demonstrated when he ripped through the third game of the deciding set to love in 43 seconds before breaking Jubb.
When serving for the set, however, Kyrgios stood back to admire a drop shot, only to be left stranded when Jubb brilliantly ran it down en route to his own break back.
Jubb then failed to convert a break point and, serving to take the match to a decisive tiebreak, leaked a couple of shots wide to help Kyrgios secure victory.