August 12, 2022

LONDON — Nick Kyrgios felt “disappointed” when he first heard that Rafael Nadal had withdrawn from the Wimbledon men’s singles semi-final. Then he said he only managed to get an hour’s sleep on Thursday night and was “a reckless ball of energy” as he processed the news.

Nadal withdrew from his semi-final with an abdominal injury, meaning Kyrgios will play his first-ever Grand Slam final on Sunday against either Novak Djokovic or Cam Norrie.

Kyrgios said on Friday he was hoping for a “third chapter” after being 1-1 in two previous matches against Nadal at Wimbledon.

“My energy was so focused on the game [Nadal] and tactically how I’m going to go there and play, the emotions of walking there, all that kind of stuff,” said Kyrgios, who said he learned of Nadal’s decision while dining on Thursday.

“But, you know, it wouldn’t have been easy for him to do that [withdraw]. … He barely lost a game this year. He probably wanted to go for all four. So it wouldn’t be easy. I hope he gets better.”

Now Kyrgios’ attention has turned to the men’s final on Sunday, saying he was ‘super proud’ of himself and ‘never thought’ he would make a Grand Slam final .

“To be honest, I had a shocking night’s sleep,” Kyrgios said. “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.

He added: “I was just restless. So many thoughts in my head about a Wimbledon final. That’s all I was thinking. I was just thinking [about] playing, obviously imagining myself winning, imagining myself losing. All. …I feel like I’m just a reckless ball of energy right now. I just want to get out on the practice field now and hit some tennis balls and just talk. I do not know. I want it to come already. Yeah, I want the final to happen already.”

Kyrgios has lost to Djokovic twice in matches, and they’ve faced each other off the pitch before as well. However, they have grown closer since Kyrgios backed Djokovic earlier this year when he was kicked out of Australia ahead of the Australian Open.

“We definitely have a bit of bromance now, which is weird,” said Kyrgios, who added that Djokovic was sending him direct messages on Instagram. “I think everyone knows there was no love lost for a while there. I think it was healthy for the sport. I think every time we we faced, there was a hype around it. It was interesting for the media, the people who were watching, all that.

“I felt like I was almost the only type of player and someone to defend it with all that kind of drama at the Australian Open. I feel like that’s where the respect is kind of earned – not on the tennis court, but I feel like when a real life crisis happens and someone stands up for you.”

This has been rare in Kyrgios’ case, especially with his fellow Aussies.

Kyrgios said Lleyton Hewitt, who was the last Australian male player to reach a Slam final at the 2005 US Open, is one of the few former Australian pros to support him.

“The kind of one big that’s backed me up all the time has been Lleyton Hewitt,” said Kyrgios, who said he struck with Hewitt earlier in the tournament. “Like he knows. He’s our Davis Cup captain, and he kind of knows I’m doing my own thing.”

It has been an eventful fortnight for Kyrgios at Wimbledon. He was fined twice – first for spitting in the direction of a spectator after his first-round victory, then again for “audible obscenity” in the third round against Stefanos Tsitsipas. He overcame a shoulder injury in round four. Ahead of his quarter-final match, news broke that he was due in court in Canberra, Australia next month to face a common assault charge.

Earlier in the tournament he was criticized by Pat Cash for taking “tennis to the lowest level I can see in regards to fair play, cheating, manipulation, abuse, aggressive behavior towards referees, linesmen” during an appearance on BBC radio.

“I mean, look, when it comes to Australian tennis greats, they haven’t always been the nicest to me personally,” Kyrgios said. “They haven’t always been supportive. They haven’t been supportive these two weeks. So it’s hard for me to read what they say about me. … I’m definitely the pariah of Australian players.

“It’s quite sad because I don’t get any support from any of the other Australian tennis players, on the men’s side. Not the players, but like the greats of the past. It’s weird that they just have a sick obsession to tear me down for some I don’t know if they don’t like me or if they’re scared I don’t know I don’t know what it is But it sucks ’cause if it was reverse roles, if I saw [Alex] De Minaur in the final, or if I saw Jordan Thompson or Thanasi [Kokkinakis], I would be pumped. I would be delighted. I’d be drinking a pint watching it go crazy.”