Nick Kyrgios brings the noise and blasts past Tsitsipas in stormy encounter | Nick Kyrgios

For all of the drama that forever surrounds Nick Kyrgios, there has been one undeniable constant of his season so far – his tennis. Quietly, Kyrgios is playing the best tennis of his life and, even though he has competed sparingly, almost every time he has taken to the court this year his level has been high. As a consequence, he has put himself in the position for the deep grand slam run that has evaded him so far in his career.

But it sure is difficult to talk only about tennis with all of the drama that surrounds him. In a contest that lived up to all of the anticipation, veering from gripping, quality tennis to farcical, unadulterated chaos, Kyrgios inserted himself deep into Stefanos Tsitsipas’s psyche and eventually emerged as a victor, defeating Tsitsipas 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-3 7-6 (7) to reach the fourth round of Wimbledon.

After a week of discussion about empty seats and low attendances around the grounds, this was certainly not one such example. Before the match had begun, every seat was taken and lines of fans circled the stadium as seemingly everyone on the grounds attempted to be present at the biggest match of the tournament so far.

Throughout the first set, Kyrgios was clearly the better player, breezing through his own service games while putting Tsitsipas under immense pressure on his own. But Tsitsipas saved every break point, he kept his head down and focused only on himself, refusing to be distracted. When Kyrgios double faulted at 1-1 in the tie-break, Tsitsipas was ready and breezed through it to take the set.

Stefanos Tsitsipas speaks with the umpire during the match
Stefanos Tsitsipas speaks with the umpire during the match. Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

It is fair to say that the calmness and composure did not last very long. Throughout the match, Kyrgios did what he often does. He argued with the umpire about line calls. He called people he disagreed with stupid. The linespeople continually reported his comments to the umpire. But his tennis was also right there – he took the second set with a moment of genius, deflecting Tsitsipas’s smash for a forehand passing shot winner.

As that set fell away from him, Tsitsipas finally erupted. He sent a backhand into the lower section of the crowd, just below his player’s box, and he was extremely fortunate not to strike anyone. Outraged by Tsitsipas receiving only a code violation, Kyrgios spent the time before the start of the third set shouting loudly at the umpire, the supervisor and anyone who would listen, attempting to get Tsitsipas defaulted from the match. “You can’t hit a ball into the crowd, and hit someone, and not get defaulted,” he said. As Kyrgios unloaded on the supervisor, Tsitsipas told the umpire that his opponent had “zero respect”.

With the match level and Kyrgios completely in his head, Tsitsipas only descended further into madness. At 3-1, 40-0 Kyrgios threw in an underarm serve, which Tsitsipas responded to by sprinting up to the ball and slapping it at the back fence. As Kyrgios smirked, Tsitsipas received a code violation and point penalty. Later in the set, Tsitsipas slapped the ball as hard as possible at Kyrgios as he stood helpless at the net, barely missing him.

The toxicity threatened to derail the match, yet the tennis still delivered. After looking as if he had mentally checked out of the match, Tsitsipas admirably recovered, saving four break points in the opening game of the fourth set, then continually pressuring Kyrgios on serve. With his back to the wall in the set, Kyrgios was red hot himself, spectacularly holding after trailing 0-40 at 3-4. Deep in the fourth set tie-break he was utterly nerveless. He demolished a series of forehands to bring up match point, then finished with a delicate drop shot.

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Beyond the drama, the outcome is clear. Kyrgios is playing the best tennis of his life and he left with a monumental win that has afforded him one of the biggest opportunities of his career. Kyrgios will now face Brandon Nakashima for a spot in his first Wimbledon quarter-final since his breakout run in 2014.

The highest seed left in his section of the draw is Alex De Minaur, the 19th seed, and none of the remaining players there have made a grand slam semi-final. Kyrgios is clearly the favourite. Such opportunities for a deep Wimbledon run do not come often and it remains to be seen if he will continue this progress or whether the chaos he creates will eventually envelop him, too.

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