Is this entertainment? Like it or not, Kyrgios has his sights set on the Wimbledon title

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London (AFP) – Roger Federer described him as a “clown”, Rafael Nadal once accused him of a lack of respect, and on an unforgettable Saturday night at Wimbledon, Stefanos Tsitsipas called him “evil” and a “bully”.

Love him or hate him, Nick Kyrgios is close to becoming Wimbledon’s most controversial champion.

The 27-year-old Australian reached the last 16 after a tumultuous encounter against Tsitsipas as Wimbledon’s normally exquisite Court 1 witnessed the tennis equivalent of a street brawl.

Both players collected code violations.

Kyrgios called for the Greek to be disqualified for hitting the ball into the crowd. At one point he refused to continue playing.

Tsitsipas admitted he deliberately tried to hit the Australian with the ball to end the “circus”.

The Greek fell into Kyrgios’s trap, blinked first, and after three hours and 17 minutes was eliminated from the tournament.

It was another impressive scalp for Kyrgios. Whether the antics, constant talking and complaining are tactical or not, his stats are impressive.

He has wins against four of the top five in the world.

Third-ranked Novak Djokovic, a potential Wimbledon final opponent, has lost both times he has faced the Australian. The Serbian hasn’t even taken a set.

Kyrgios’ record against world number one Daniil Medvedev is two wins and one loss.

Kyrgios is 4-3 against second-seeded Alexander Zverev and, after Saturday, he is 4-1 in his rivalry with world number five Tsitsipas.

Interestingly, the ice cool Nadal and Federer have impressive numbers.

“Golden Hand”

World number four Nadal, who could be a semi-final opponent, has won six of his nine matches against the erratic Australian.

This was then: Nick Kyrgios celebrates beating Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014. CARL COURT AFP/File

Federer was hardly troubled, boasting a 6-1 advantage.

Kyrgios burst onto the scene in 2014 when he stunned Nadal at Wimbledon despite his modest ranking of 144.

He shot 30 aces and 77 winners to reach the quarterfinals.

One newspaper described him as the man with the “golden arm”. American legend John McEnroe said, “I think we’ve found the next man in the men’s game.”

Since then, however, Kyrgios’ story has been a cocktail of unrealized potential, on-court controversy and fines.

He was once penalized for making a lewd comment against a girlfriend of three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka.

Another fine came after he was accused of a lack of effort in Shanghai in 2016.

At the 2019 Italian Open, he threw a chair onto the court during an angry rant.

Three years ago, he was fined $25,000 and given a 16-week suspended ban after a vitriolic outburst in Cincinnati.

He then made the allegations worse by accusing the ATP of being “corrupt”.

In an interview last month, he estimated his career fines totaled about $550,000.

After the first round at Wimbledon on Tuesday, he was another $10,000 worse off for describing the linesman as a “snitch” and admitting to spitting in the direction of fans.

Kyrgios claims he doesn’t get the respect he deserves and has put on a combative figure in all three of his Wimbledon post-match press conferences so far.

“I do not care”

With an image of NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman on his sweatshirt, he countered Tsitsipas’ accusations by saying the Greek was too “soft”.

“I was just going out there and competing at Wimbledon and I did it. It was successful. Everything I did worked. I’m not going there to be his friend,” said Kyrgios, who insists he is one of the best popular players in the dressing room.

Kyrgios may appear to suffer from a persecution complex, but he is passionate about Wimbledon.

He hit 68 aces over three rounds, dropped serve just twice and unleashed the third-fastest serve of the tournament.

Next up is the polar opposite, the unemotional Brendan Nakashima of the United States, who is in uncharted waters from the last 16 of a Grand Slam.

In his ATP profile, Nakashima describes his worst quality as “shyness”, which is definitely not a flaw in Kyrgios’ character.

Win or lose on Monday, Kyrgios insists he will remain his own man.

“They should be watching me play in the fourth round at Wimbledon. I got paid pretty well this week too, so I don’t care what they think,” he said.

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