Alexander Zverev provides German success while Nick Kyrgios avoids late-night excess at Wimbledon
Alexander Zverev knows how to charm a crowd. After his 90-minute evisceration of Tallon Griekspoor on No.1 Court in the first round at Wimbledon, the “pitchside” interviewer asked him about a certain football game that was taking place at Wembley in a few hours.
Zverev was as nimble with the answer as he was in outmanoeuvring his Dutch opponent: “I’m gonna give you an answer where I’m gonna get booed off the court and I’m never gonna play here again. Yeah, I mean, I just hope it goes to penalties and we’ll see then. ”
Ok. The crowd liked it. They really liked it. Hey, England won as well so it’s only going to get better for Sascha.
Zverev is finally warming to the task of being a major contender and someone who can appreciate “150 thousand years” of Wimbledon history as he put it. There’s a quiet casual charm about making such statements in the rather stiff lexicon of SW19 history.
Despite recent difficult headlines regarding personal relationships and that crushing loss to his friend Dominic Thiem in the 2020 US Open when two sets up, the 24-year-old from Hamburg might be ready to mount a charge for the young-ish brigade who were touted as the ones ready to take on the Fedal mantle. Someone here better give Novak Djokovic a battle. Nobody wants Wimbledon 2021 to turn into a cakewalk for the Serb.
That someone will probably not be Nick Kyrgios. The 26-year-old strode onto court at just after 8pm as a surprise bonus match for the dwindling spectators. Centre Court had been robbed of a real fifth set tussle as Roger Federer overcame a hobbled Adrian Mannarino so No.1 Court was the focus for a late night with the Wild Thing.
Except that Kyrgios was tame under the lights. Tame in a Kyrgios way, you understand. He immediately had respect for the shotmanship of Ugo Humbert who had taken the Australian to five sets at Melbourne. Let’s say his continued vocal appreciation of Humbert’s flair was in stark contrast to a documented lack of appreciation for Djokovic.
The only thing that was riling the world No 61 was the pace of the courts. “Guys, for you watching at home, it should be fast in here. It should be fast. That’s grass-court tennis.” We agree. And he didn’t even slip over.
As the Frenchman gained the upper hand to lead by two sets to one, Kyrgios’s edgy side come out but the grenade pin was never pulled out. The banter with the crowd even involved a response to the football: “It’s coming home, Nick.”
Well, the Socceroos obviously don’t participate in the Euros but this seemed to stir our anti-hero into action as he thumped down four rocket booster aces at the beginning of the fourth set. He then unleashed the full range of his tennis wizardry.
Just as things were beginning to get enticing in the fifth, the local curfew kicked in much to the gentle annoyance of a crowd that was enraptured by the adrenalised Aussie and his unique brand of self-commentary. Let’s put it this way: he only attempted one under-arm serve. This was serious Nick with only a few between the leg lobs.
So while Centre Court saw the fall of Queen Serena and almost the end of the road for Regal Roger, its neighbour claimed the spoils with Zverev, Daniil Medvedev overcoming a competitive Jan-Lennard Struff and then our favourite rebel from down under in the late saloon. The good news is that we get to see him again today for a brief afternoon tipple. Whether it’s last orders or not depends on what is going on between those ears…
Follow Tim Ellis on Twitter @Timotei365
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