LONDON – Nick Kyrgios was “disappointed” when he first heard Rafael Nadal had pulled out of the Wimbledon men’s singles semifinals. He then said he only managed an hour of sleep Thursday night and was “a reckless ball of energy” as he processed the news.
Nadal pulled out of the semifinals with a stomach injury, meaning Kyrgios will play his first-ever Grand Slam final against Novak Djokovic or Cam Norrie on Sunday.
Kyrgios said on Friday he hopes for a “third chapter” after going 1-1 against Nadal in two previous games at Wimbledon.
“My energy was so focused on the game [Nadal] and tactically, how I’m going to go out there and play, the emotions of going out there, all those things,” said Kyrgios, who said he found out about Nadal’s decision while having dinner on Thursday.
“But you know, it wouldn’t have been easy for him to do that [withdraw]. … He has hardly lost a match this year. He probably wanted to go for all four. So it wouldn’t be easy. I hope he gets better.”
Now Kyrgios’ attention has shifted to Sunday’s men’s final, saying he is “super proud” of himself and “never thought” he would reach a Grand Slam final.
“To be honest, I had a shocking sleep last night,” Kyrgios said. “I slept for probably an hour just with everything, like the excitement. I was so scared I’ve been so nervous, and I don’t usually feel nervous.
He added: “I was just uneasy. So many thoughts in my head about a Wimbledon final. That’s all I thought of. I was just thinking [about] play, obviously imagining that i’m winning, imagining that i’m losing. All. … I’m feeling like a reckless ball of energy right now. I just want to go to the practice court right now and hit some tennis balls and just talk. I do not know. I want it to come. Yes, I want the final to come.”
Kyrgios has lost to Djokovic twice in matches and they have also clashed off the pitch before. However, they have become closer since Kyrgios supported Djokovic earlier this year when he was deported from Australia ahead of the Australian Open.
“We’re definitely having some bromance now, which is weird,” said Kyrgios, who added that Djokovic sends him direct messages on Instagram. “I think everyone knows that there wasn’t a love lost there for a while. I think it was healthy for the sport. I think every time we played each other there was hype about it. It was interesting to the media, the people watching, all of that.
“I felt like I was almost the only kind of player and someone who stood up for him with all that kind of drama at the Australian Open. I feel like you kind of deserve respect there – not on the tennis court, but I feel like when a crisis happens in real life and someone stands up for you.”
That was rare in the case of Kyrgios, especially among his fellow Australians.
Kyrgios said Lleyton Hewitt, who became the last Australian male player to reach a Slam final at the 2005 US Open, is one of the few Australian ex-pros to back him.
“The only big player who supported me all along was Lleyton Hewitt,” said Kyrgios, who said he scored with Hewitt earlier in the tournament. “As if he knows. He’s our Davis Cup captain and he kind of knows I’m kind of doing my own thing.”
It’s been an eventful fortnight for Kyrgios at Wimbledon. He was penalized twice – first for spitting in the direction of a spectator after his first-round win, then again for an “audible obscenity” in the third round against Stefanos Tsitsipas. In the fourth round he overcame a shoulder injury. Ahead of his quarter-final match, it was revealed that he was summoned to a court in Canberra, Australia, next month to face charges of joint assault.
Earlier in the tournament he was criticized by Pat Cash for “bringing tennis to the lowest level I can see in terms of skill, cheating, manipulation, abuse, aggressive behavior towards umpires and linesmen” during an appearance on BBC radio can”.
“I mean, look, the greats of Australian tennis haven’t always been the nicest to me personally,” Kyrgios said. “They have not always supported. They did not support these two weeks. So I find it difficult to read things they say about me. … I’m definitely the outcast of Australian players.
“It’s quite sad because I don’t get any support from any of the other Australian tennis players, the male side. Not by the players, but by the greats of the past. It’s weird that they just have a sick obsession with tearing me down for some reason. I just don’t know if they don’t like me or if they’re scared. I do not know. I do not know what it is. But it sucks because if it were rolls would be reversed when I saw [Alex] De Minaur in a final, or when I saw Jordan Thompson or Thanasi [Kokkinakis], I would be pumped. I would be delighted. I’d have a pint and watch myself go insane.”