Kyrgios beats Garin in straight sets to reach Wimbledon semi-finals

Nick Kyrgios roars into his FIRST-EVER Grand Slam semi-final as the Australian bad boy beats Cristian Garin in straight sets to set up a mouth-watering final four clash with Rafael Nadal

  • Nick Kyrgios reached his first Grand Slam singles semi-final on Wednesday
  • The Australian beat Chile’s Cristian Garin 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) on Court One
  • It came a day after he was charged with a common assault of his ex-girlfriend
  • Kyrgios now faces a mouth-watering final four clash with Rafael Nadal at SW19

Nick Kyrgios said he thought his ship had sailed. Actually, it might be about to come in.

As he battled through a straight sets victory on Wimbledon’s Court 1, over on Centre, the aging body of Rafael Nadal was catching up with him. There has arguably rarely been a better year to play Novak Djokovic, too – that is if he overcomes the top British seed Cameron Norrie. 

There is no such thing as an easy Grand Slam tournament, despite what Emma Raducanu’s detractors say, but, equally, the stars are aligning for Kyrgios. 

Nick Kyrgios is through to the Wimbledon semi-finals after beating Cristian Garin on Court One

The Australian reached the last four of a grand slam for the first time with a commanding win

The Australian looked emotional as he returned to his chair after seeing off his opponent

The ability to control his demons is coinciding with a very winnable Wimbledon for a player of his talent. A three-set victory in two hours and 15 minutes does not tell the story of this match, though, or of how deep Kyrgios had to dig to get through.

The third set, won on a tie-break, was snatched from an opponent playing some of the best tennis of his life. Cristian Garin, of Chile, was in the zone, as the professionals call it.

Beside a double fault in the seventh game he did not make a single unforced error until the tiebreak itself. Yet he couldn’t break Kyrgios. Then, in the tiebreak itself, he took two points against serve to lead 5-3. Yet still he couldn’t finish the Australian.

To edge to match point, Kyrgios advanced to the net and dominated, with two stunning volleys as Garin tried to find a winner. With the game in the balance, there was a short interlude for a row after a late call, but when the point was replayed, Garin sent one wide and Kyrgios dropped to the turf in joy and disbelief. He had done it. 

A first Grand Slam semi-final at the age of 27 and 31 attempts. That’s what he meant about ships sailing. Goran Ivanisevic finally won Wimbledon at the age of 29, but he’d been in six quarter-finals and a semi-final before that. 

This was Kyrgios’ first quarter-final in a Slam since the Australian Open in 2015. It was only his third appearance in the last eight. Kyrgios appeared a player who was never going to deliver on his talent. Now, he looks a player who might. Certainly Garin, like a number of his other opponents here, thinks he played a potential champion.

Garin, the world number 43 from Chile, bizarrely won the first eight points to lead 2-0

But Kyrgios, amid the constant chuntering and gesticulating, broke back for 3-3 in the first set

Kyrgios was gifted the opening set by four unforced errors from his nervous looking opponent

‘It was a very close match but he served so well,’ he said. ‘He deserved the win. On grass he’s one of the best, he’s a great, great player – of course he can win this tournament. I’ve played all of the great servers on tour and he’s the best. He has an amazing serve, he’s very aggressive and he has a good touch. I didn’t see anything weird from him today, too, so that’s good from him. He’s playing at a very high level.’

Depends what you call weird. Kyrgios seemed to be at war with people in his own box for most of the match, at one stage apparently berating them for calling him ‘Kyrgs’. One wonders how he would prefer to be addressed: Mister Nicholas, perhaps? 

He also seemed to demand they stood more when applauding his shots – even the bad ones. At one stage he struck the ball long by some distance – obediently they all jumped up to encourage his next shot. What was the point of it all, beyond the power trip?

On another occasion, he appeared to take exception to something shouted from the spectator seating. Maybe its his way of getting energised but it all seems very strange when part of the reason people holler at Kyrgios matches, is they mimic the antics of the man they are watching. 

Imagine being at a pantomime and someone tells Prince Charming that the Wicked Witch is behind him. ‘Oh no, she isn’t,’ the Prince shouts to the audience. ‘Oh yes, she is,’ the audience shout back. And then the ushers throw them all out for interrupting the performance. It’s like that following Kyrgios.

An early break in the second courtesy of more loose shots from Garin, put Kyrgios in control

Garin, to his credit, proved a tough nut to crack in the third and took it the distance

Nick Kyrgios’ girlfriend Costeen Hatzi watches the action on Court One on Wednesday

Still, like the best pantos, it’s also fast, furious and fun. There was little of the showmanship usually on display, no underarm serves or shots played between the legs. Many who follow his game said he seemed subdued. 

Then again, given the charges laid against him in Australia for assaulting his former partner, is that any wonder? He must hope those who sit in judgement are as forgiving as the Wimbledon crowd. A highly unofficial guess-stimate placed support for Kyrgios at around 80 per cent. Let’s just say, given recent, events, he’s lucky he’s not a footballer.

At the end of the match Kyrgios sat on his chair for some time, towel draped over his head. It wasn’t exhaustion although it is hard to think of too many other players who would have beaten Garin in that third set. He was merely contemplating, reflecting. 

That is the person he wants to be now, even if he remains a mass of contradictions, one minute claiming tennis to be unimportant in the wider scheme of his life, the next looking back on his career to here as a waste.

Kyrgios now faces a mouth-watering final four clash with Rafael Nadal on Friday

‘There was a point I was almost done with the sport,’ he admitted. ‘I was self-harming, I had suicidal thoughts. To be a semi-finalist at Wimbledon now, if you had asked anyone if I could do that they would have said no. Doesn’t have the mental capacity, doesn’t have the physical capacity, doesn’t have the stamina. It’s been a rocky road to here. At the start of the year I didn’t know if I wanted to play a proper schedule. I’d lost the love, I’d lost the spark.’

He could not have been less like that person on Wednesday. This was a proper test, the sort of match a potential champion has to guts out. He was brilliant when tested on break points, pulling out aces, drop shots, fabulous winners and returns. He was not playing as the underdog either and pressure comes with being expected to win. Kyrgios knew that, too. He knew this was a career milestone, and not just because of Friday’s semi-final.

‘I was not expecting Garin to have that level on grass because it’s his least favourite surface,’ he said. ‘My God, that forehand return will give me nightmares. I felt pressure today, uncharted territory, being the favourite. The score does not reflect how tough that was.’ 

He was asked about the tweeners – the trademark shot from between his legs. The voice replying sounded mature, ready for the next stage. ‘I couldn’t afford to play one today,’ he said. ‘I was on the back foot from the start.’ 

It wouldn’t have stopped him in the past, though. That’s what has changed.

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