TENNIS

With little sleep, lots of nerves, Nick Kyrgios focuses on the final | ATP Tour

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Competing in a Grand Slam final is an opportunity that children all over the world dream of. Even Nick Kyrgios, who has rarely shown nervousness in his career, admitted on Friday that he smelled butterflies just thinking about competing on center court for the Wimbledon trophy on Sunday.

“To be honest, I had a shocking night’s sleep last night. I probably slept for an hour just with everything, like excitement. I had so much anxiety, I felt so nervous already and I don’t usually feel nervous,” Kyrgios said. “I just know that there are a lot of people who want me to do well and give my best. But I had a shocking sleep last night. I hope I can get some sleep tonight.

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The Australian had never passed a major quarter-final before this fortnight. In the quarterfinals, Kyrgios beat the Chilean Cristian Garin. On Thursday night, he learned that his semi-final opponent Rafael Nadal had pulled out, sending the 27-year-old into the league game. “Every little thought” ran through Kyrgios’ head.

“I was just restless, so many thoughts going through my head about a Wimbledon final. That’s all I was thinking about,” Kyrgios said. “I was just thinking about playing, obviously imagining myself winning, m ‘imagine losing, everything.’

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The good news for the No. 40 player on the Pepperstone ATP rankings is that this isn’t his first experience at the end of a major tournament. Earlier this year, he partnered Thanasi Kokkinakis for the Australian Open doubles title. Although singles and doubles are physically different, Kyrgios found finding late-tournament rhythm made him more comfortable this time around.

“You just have to ride the waves, roll with the punches in a Grand Slam. Like, you just don’t know. You really don’t know. You could be four points away from losing the tournament and then 11 days later , you’re in the final,” said Kyrgios, who needed five sets in his first-round match against Paul Jubb. “I just feel like I’m taking it as it comes now more than I used to do.”

Kyrgios was eagerly awaiting the opportunity in the semi-finals to face Rafael Nadal, who leads their ATP Head2Head series 6-3. But above all, the Australian wants the 22-time winner to recover quickly.

“That’s not how I wanted to get to the final. As a competitor, I really wanted this game. It was obviously something that as soon as I beat Garin, Rafa was a big possibility, someone I had so many good battles with before. We both got a win against each other in this tournament. I really wanted to see how the third chapter was going to play out,” Kyrgios said. “Obviously you never want to see someone like that, so important to the sport, go down with an injury like that. He’s played so much tennis. He’s had a trying season. I just hope he gets better. I’m sure I’ll play it again on a big stage.

Now, the goals of the six-time ATP Tour titlist are fully set for Sunday’s final, in which he will face Novak Djokovic, six-time Wimbledon champion, or Briton Cameron Norrie.

“Whether I win or lose on Sunday, I will be happy. It’s such an achievement that I thought I would never be a part of,” Kyrgios said. “Especially at 27, I think it’s, for me, I thought it was the last stages of my career. But I never thought it would be here. I have a chance.”

Kyrgios posted a picture on social media on Friday of himself as a young junior holding a tennis racket. This boy from Canberra has come a long way.

“I never thought I would be here at all, to be brutally honest with you. Obviously, when I was the No. 1 junior in the world and playing here as a junior, I can’t give the juniors enough credit, what that did for my confidence. To be around Grand Slams at that young age, to be around some of the best players, from the facility, I don’t think I would have had the breakthrough in men’s that quickly. But I never thought I would play,” Kyrgios said. “I’ve seen some of the pros walking around and I’ll be a junior here, and never thought I’d be playing for the men’s title. I feel like this is the pinnacle of tennis. Once you are able to lift a Grand Slam trophy, I mean, what else is there to accomplish?

“So I never thought I would be here. I’m just super proud and I’m just ready to go. I’m going to give it my all and we’ll see what happens.

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