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What the papers say

Nick Kyrgios raises his arm as he leaves Centre Court
by Clive White
Wednesday 2 July 2014

The papers were spoilt for choice about what to lead on at Wimbledon on Tuesday, but most seemed to go with world No.144 Nick Kyrgios’s defeat of the world No.1 Rafael Nadal.

They seemed to like particularly the idea that a negative remark from his mother had inspired the biggest upset at The Championships since 1992, when world No.1 Jim Courier lost to an unknown Russian called Andrei Olhovskiy, ranked No.193 in the world.

Most would argue that 19-year-old Kyrgios’s victory was even more stupefying because, unlike Nadal, Courier had never won Wimbledon and was, anyway, not quite of the same ilk, as the American would probably be the first to admit.

Rick Broadbent, of The Times, reported on what had driven Kyrgios on. “For his mother, who had said she thought Nadal would be too good, and for Rod Laver, the Australian legend who concluded the same, it was a happy awakening. “I don’t know what she was thinking," Kyrgios said. "That made me a big angry.” His stated aim of becoming the world’s best sounded like preciousness before; it smacked of common sense afterwards.

As Broadbent said: “Nadal needed to be at his bloody-minded best to stay in touch. His modus operandi was tennis rope-a-dope – soak up the punishment meted out by Kyrgios’s meteors and hope to land a knockout blow. It was as good a plan as any in the circumstances but fatally, inevitably, flawed.”

Kevin Garside, of The Independent, added: “He [Kyrgios] didn’t have to win on his first visit to make an impact. It was enough that he should walk into Rafa’s house, help himself to a beer, and skip all over the furniture. Thirty-seven aces, trick shots through the legs , exaggerated reactions to key points, Kyrgios gave it the full monty with attitude.

“As he often does, John McEnroe put it best when he observed at the conclusion of one point that Kyrgios looked as though he might jump clean out of his pants.
McEnroe was reported by some papers as suggesting that Kyrgios could even win the title. Oliver Brown, in the Daily Telegraph, reported the former Wimbledon champion as saying: “The last guy I saw like that was Boris Becker.”

“So fearless was Kyrgios at the pivotal moments,” wrote Brown, “that one wondered if the teenager even had a pulse. We have spoken of Grigor Dimitrov as a contender to join the firmament of the sport but this year’s Championships have unearthed as a prospect of even greater richness and rawness.”

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With Maria Sharapova’s defeat following hard on the heels of Serena Williams’ exit it wasn’t difficult to imagine that Wimbledon might have a relative unknown winning the title this year. As Tim Lewis, of The Guardian, said: “The fact that something very similar happened last year at Wimbledon only fractionally lessens the incredulity. Once more the women’s champion may well be a player whom no-one suspected – and only serious tennis fans had even heard of – just a week ago.

As Lewis said: “Sharapova must have felt as if her opponent was a wall. [Angelique] Kerber plays as if every point should be cherished and she ran down Sharapova’s pulverising groundstrokes as if each one was match point against her.”

A quote from Sharapova in a piece of Harvey Araton, of The International New York Times, emphasised that point. “She’s never really a player that gives you a lot of mistakes or lots of errors,” said Sharapova, who made more than her fair share, 49 unforced errors to an impressive 11 by Kerber.

“She’s a great anticipator of the ball, one of the best. I don’t think she has a very huge weapon but the fact that she makes you play such a physical match, gets so many balls back, and not just back but deep and hard and flat, yeah, it says something.”

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Arguably the most puzzling story of the day was Serena Williams’s retirement, due to a viral disorder, from a doubles match with her sister Venus against Germany’s Kristina Barrois and Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele on No.1 Court. The Williams sisters were trailing 3-0 at the time. Gregory Walton in the Daily Telegraph commented: “[Serena] Williams was entirely listless as she wafted her racket through thin air and even struggled to coordinate her exchanges with the court’s ball boys.

“Serena had earlier struggled through the warm-up and called on her trainer. Prior to the game she also underwent an unusual 10-minute medical check on the sidelines in which her blood pressure was taken. Despite the checks she was still certified to play.”

Venus was quoted as saying that her sister had been feeling unwell “for the past few days”.

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Simon Barnes, in The Times, says Roger Federer’s tennis at these Championships has provided the perfect answer to those people who believe that the 19-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer should retire. “Watch a point from his match yesterday. Just about any one will do, but a dozen or more were, well, ever so slightly like The Birth of Venus or the Goldberg Variations. There always are with Federer, even in defeat.
“Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings? If you could fly like one, you wouldn’t ask.”

************

Mike Dickson, in the Daily Mail, suggests that given a different set of circumstances, Andy Murray might now be working with the coach of his opponent today, Grigor Dimitrov, rather than Amelie Mauresmo. “Murray holds [Roger] Rasheed in such high regard that he nearly hired him as his coach before the appointment of Ivan Lendl and it is easy to see why in the progress that the 23-year-old Bulgarian has made...Had Rasheed been available now, Murray might well have called him again but in the event he has made the innovative choice of Amelie Mauresmo as coach, with every mach a sterner test than the last.”

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20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...

20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."

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