‘We Don’t Mind Getting A Bit Dirty’: Kyrgios On The Aussie Love For Grass

  • Posted: Jun 29, 2023

‘We Don’t Mind Getting A Bit Dirty’: Kyrgios On The Aussie Love For Grass

28-year-old notched Tour-leading 12 wins on the surface in 2022

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

Nick Kyrgios believes a sense of on-court freedom is key to mastering the grass-court game. The 28-year-old Australian, who racked up a Tour-leading 12 wins on the surface in 2022, is renowned for enrapturing fans with his unpredictable, imaginative strokeplay.

“I think just the ability to take one hand off the racquet [is vital on grass],” Kyrgios told ATPTour.com last week. “Volleys, slicing, blocking returns, all the intangibles. You get so many bad bounces on grass, and [you have to be] able to slice and drop shot and bring so many different aspects to the game.”

Kyrgios’ homeland 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 the Queen’s Club) both reaching ATP Tour finals across the opening 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,” said Kyrgios. “I think Aussie’s 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 on [grass].

“Pretty much as soon as we played tennis there were national tournaments in Australia on grass. Under 10s, 12s, 14s. So we all grew up on and we were all very comfortable on it. There’s no surprise when I see other Aussies having good results on it. We all feel really comfy on it.”

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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 quarter-finals. Eight years later, the Australian charged to his maiden major final at SW19, where he was unable to prevent Novak Djokovic from winning his fourth consecutive title. Despite falling just short of a dream major trophy, Kyrgios holds 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 is a tournament where I think every tennis player wants to do well. People that don’t play tennis know about Wimbledon.

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

“I was one short but I’m not sad about saying I lost to the greatest player of all time and gave him a real match. It’s going to be good walking there for the first time [this year] and there’s going be a lot of media attention around it as well. 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 issues with his left knee mean his defeat to Wu Yibing in Germany will be his only competitive match before Wimbledon. Far-from-ideal preparation, but Kyrgios is not concerned about any raised expectations on him this time around.

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

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

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

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Kyrgios is bidding to follow his countrymen Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Pat Cash and Lleyton Hewitt in lifting the men’s singles trophy on Centre Court during the Open Era (since 1968). Regardless of how far he goes this year, the seven-time ATP Tour titlist will relish being back on one of the most historic sites in tennis at the All England Club.

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

“Every other tournament is tennis, obviously, but there’s something about Wimbledon that just breathes it. There’s so much culture there and that’s where it kind of began. 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 to [be able to] say.”

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