Unpredictable Australian Nick Kyrgios survived some tough moments, taken to the wire as he battled past British wild card Paul Jubb in a five-set thriller in the first round at the Wimbledon here on Tuesday.
Playing on No.3 Court in little cloudy, sometimes swirly conditions with intermittent periods of sunshine. the Australian required three hours and five minutes to claim a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-7(3), 7-5 victory over the world No.219 Jubb, who was chasing his first win at a Grand Slam.
Kyrgios, who combined his usual big serving with the odd under-arm delivery and efficient groundstrokes with some unreliable tweeners, came back after losing the first set to take two sets to one lead. Overall, he converted five of his six break points and went on to win a tough match. The World No. 40 player in the ATP Rankings will next play 26th seed Filip Krajinovic or Czech Jiri Lehecka.
“Just a typical first round here for me. I [have] played so many five-setters first round. It’s an absolute roller-coaster,” Kyrgios was quoted as saying in a report on the ATP website. “So just super pumped to be able to just move through, really. Easily could have gone the other way today. A couple of lucky shots here or there. He put himself in a position to win.”
Kyrgios started tentatively and Jubb, by contrast, was a steady presence, displaying both feathery touch and a remarkable measure of composure. Both were a factor as the 22-year-old Briton gained the early edge, capitalising on a flurry of Kyrgios errors to claim the first break of serve in the eighth game of the first set.
Kyrgios, though, had won all four of his previous matches against wild cards at Grand Slam tournaments, and a dip from Jubb in the fourth game of the second set provided an opening. He secured a break of serve on his first break point opportunity and soon gained a 5-1 advantage. Surviving a break point on his own serve, Kyrgios consolidated to level.
While a tense Kyrgios might have seemed distracted as he repeatedly engaged with umpire Marija Cicak, members of the crowd, and most of all himself, he was in fact now producing good tennis.
The 27-year-old is now 10-3 in five-set matches, including 5-0 at Wimbledon. He has not lost a first-round clash this season (8-0). Kyrgios let slip an opportunity to serve for the match at 5-3 in the deciding set but quickly rebounded to clinch his victory after three hours and five minutes behind 30 aces and 67 winners overall.
Kyrgios, who made the quarterfinals at the All England Club as a 19-year-old, arrived at the third major of the season with plenty of matches after advancing to the semi-finals in Stuttgart in Halle. But the Australian warned he would need to maintain that form against Jubb, a wild card.
But Kyrgios’ big serve helped keep the pressure off him, which proved pivotal. And when he earned opportunities, he made the most of them. At 3-2 in the decider, the six-time ATP Tour titlist hit a perfect crosscourt backhand passing shot to position himself for the critical break. On the next point, Jubb missed a backhand volley, and that seemed would be a fatal mistake.
That was not the case, though. With the full support of the crowd Jubb, who converted just two of his 13 break points, broke back. Kyrgios was frustrated, but he remained calm enough to hold on. After letting slip his first match point by missing a backhand return long, he made sure to put his next return in play, and Jubb missed the first-ball forehand.
“To be honest, how I got through that…I’m pretty proud of myself to be able to sit here as the winner today,” Kyrgios said. “Couple years ago, who knows. I may have lost that match. I’m just happy to have another chance to go out there and try to put in a better performance.”