Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon & Aussie Love For Grass | ATP Tour

How do you post consistent results on a surface that is anything but?

Nick Kyrgios believes that a sense of freedom on the court is the key to mastering the grass court game. The 28-year-old Australian, who has a Tour-leading 12 victories on the surface in 2022, is known to delight fans with his unpredictable, imaginative strokeplay.

“I just believe in the ability to take one hand off the racket [is vital on grass], Kyrgios told last week. “Floating, cutting, blocking returns, all the intangibles. You get so many bad rejections on grass, and [you have to be] able to cut and drop shots and bring so many different aspects to the game.”

Kyrgios’ home country has a deep-rooted culture of grass court tennis. The Australian Open was held on the surface until 1987, and the country’s ATP Tour stars continue to live up to that history. This year has been no exception, with Jordan Thompson (‘s-Hertogenbosch) and Alex de Minaur (at Queen’s Club) both reaching the ATP Tour Finals during the first two weeks of the grass court season.

“I think you look at some of the best grass court players in the world, someone like Roger [Federer] was so good because he was able to adapt and hit so many different shots,” Kyrgios said. “I think the Aussies don’t mind getting a bit dirty and trying to find different ways to win. So that’s why you see so many of us having some good results at [grass].

“As soon as we played tennis, there were national tournaments in Australia on grass. Under 10s, 12s, 14s. So we all grew up on it and we were all very comfortable with it. No surprise when I see other Aussies doing well on it. We all feel really good about it.”

Kyrgios announced himself on the world stage as a 19-year-old in 2014 when he downed then world No. 1 Rafael Nadal en route to the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Eight years later, the Australian reached his first major final at SW19, where he was unable to prevent Novak Djokovic from winning his fourth consecutive title. Despite being just short of a dream trophy, Kyrgios has fond memories of his exploits in London a year ago.

“It was amazing. The fact that it’s only been a year. It’s been crazy,” he said. “Everything off the court and all the attention obviously… It’s a tournament where I think every tennis player wants to do well. People who don’t play tennis know about Wimbledon.

“I think it’s the fact that you’ve done all the work in your life to actually announce the result of that tournament that will be remembered for the rest of your life. It’s a pretty special feeling. I think , that at the end of the day every tennis player works so hard to get one of those results at a Grand Slam.

“I was short, but I’m not sorry to say that I lost to the best player ever and gave him a real fight. It will be good to go there for the first time [this year] and there will also be a lot of media attention around it. So let’s see how it goes.”

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After missing the first five months of the 2023 season following knee surgery, Kyrgios made his comeback to the ATP Tour in Stuttgart earlier this month. Ongoing problems with his left knee mean his defeat to Wu Yibing in Germany will be his only competitive match before Wimbledon. Far from an ideal preparation, Kyrgios is not worried about any heightened expectations for him this time around.

“I think if anything it will help me, the fact that I’ve already posted such a good result there and I know Center Court so well,” said Kyrgios, who has a 20-8 record at the grass-court major . . “I know what I have to do to be successful. I think all the pressure is on me, to be honest.

“I think people always say that once you have results, the pressure starts to come. But for me it’s been the other way around my whole career. When I’ve won tournaments or when I’ve done really well, it’s almost the other way around. It’s almost like you’ve proven yourself and now you can actually just relax and have fun with it.

“I don’t think I have anything left to prove in my career to be honest. I’ve beaten some great players, won some really big tournaments, [made the] the final of a Grand Slam, won a doubles Grand Slam. I feel now that’s why you work. So you can actually have fun and just enjoy it.”

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Kyrgios is bidding to follow his compatriots Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Pat Cash and Lleyton Hewitt in lifting the men’s singles trophy on Center Court during the Open Era (since 1968). No matter how far he goes this year, the seven-time ATP Tour titlist will enjoy being back at one of the most historic venues in tennis at the All England Club.

“I think it’s Wimbledon in general,” Kyrgios said when asked what made him so passionate about the grass-court major. “Just the accommodation, in terms of living right next to the tracks, to just stepping foot in that place. You just feel like it’s tennis.

“Every other tournament is obviously tennis, but there’s something about Wimbledon that just breathes it. There’s so much culture there and that’s where it started. So I think I’m really happy that my best result ever at a singles Grand Slam was at Wimbledon I think that’s just an incredible thing [be able to] say.”

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