LONDON (AP) — Nick Kyrgios is almost always worth paying attention to.
Whether he’s slamming 42 aces, hitting the ball at up to 136 mph and saving all five break points faced, as the 15th-seeded Australian did during a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 6-3 victory over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in Wimbledon’s first round on Tuesday.
Or accidentally hitting a ball girl with one serve, causing her to cry and leave the court, as also happened at the All England Club.
Or arguing with the chair umpire over all manner of matters, possibly important or not.
Or barking at his guest box, at one point telling those in it they might as well not be there at all.
“He’s always doing this,” said Istomin, who knocked off defending champion Novak Djokovic at the 2017 Australian Open. “It’s not annoying me, so if he wants to talk, OK.”
Or being by turns self-reflective and sarcastic during the news conference afterward, including when a reporter noted that Kyrgios’ tennis career has featured some complicated moments — a euphemism if ever there was one — and he shot a sideways glance toward his agent, smiled wryly and replied, “Have I?”
This is, after all, a 23-year-old who just last month was fined more than $15,000 for simulating a lewd act during a match. Who has been docked money in the past for offenses such as crude comments about an opponent’s girlfriend or quitting during a match for no apparent reason. Who has been accused of not giving his all on court. Who has displayed boundless talent in victories against players such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, whom he beat at Wimbledon as a teenager ranked 144th in 2014.
He certainly earned points for honesty after Tuesday’s win, not shy about expressing how much he likes his chances at a tournament where he’s reached the quarterfinals.
“I guess I’m in kind of, like, a happy place. I feel like I’m playing well. I mean, I have a different approach. I feel like I’m one of the guys that can cause a bit of an uproar at this event,” Kyrgios said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
Asked whether it was exciting to be involved in such a tight encounter against Istomin, where the only service break of the entire match arrived in the penultimate game, Kyrgios was not ready to accept the premise.
“Not really,” Kyrgios answered. “I would prefer to play, like, a South American guy who’s never played on grass before.”
Just telling it like it is.
He did that again when a reporter inquired about what seem to be mid-match fluctuations for Kyrgios, as he goes from intense to laid-back to intense again, sometimes from point to point.
“I don’t know, man. I just have so many thoughts when I’m out there. Like, I get so angry. I’m, like, I just go through so many different patches in a game. I guess it’s so hard for me to find that balance,” Kyrgios said. “Yeah, I know what you mean. I look like I don’t care one minute, then the next minute I’m playing really well. Not much really goes on, to be honest. … It’s a tug-of-war, all the time.”
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