WIMBLEDON'S MANIC MONDAY AND THE JOY OF DOING WHATEVER YOU WANT

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Photo by Stephen White/CameraSport via Getty Images

Bill Simons

WIMBLEDON ENGLAND—

KYRGIOS AND THAT FOOLHARDY JOY OF DOING WHATEVER YOU WANT TO: Is there anyone who’s more fun to psychoanalyze than proud, pouting Nick Krygios? The Aussie is so misunderstood – we weep. And we somehow adore snickering at the young, rather lost fellow who at his core is a good kid with a rather sensitive soul.

The man-child is so talented, so entertaining, so self-indulgent and outrageously undisciplined. He’s a free spirit with a snarl that frightens children. When asked to describe him in three words one player said he was “talented, crazy and fun.”

“There’s nothing more frustrating in sport than talent not reaching its potential,” noted the BBC. “There’s a fine line between passion and petulance…He’s someone who splits opinion. It’s hard to put an old head on young shoulders.”

To analyst Frances Aubrey, “Kyrgios’ attitude is whiny and dependent on others’ approval, instead of focused and tough. He squanders his energy on theatrics. His concentration wavers and he shrugs off lost points as if they don’t matter. No wonder he’s losing.”

John McEnroe suggested, “Kyrgios knows a thing or two about getting volatile – but not as much as me…[But] this is not doing our sport any good. He’s giving 80%. You’ve got to give 110%.”

McEnroe said someone needed to ask him just what’s up – where does he want to go?

So I stepped up to the plate and had this curious, terse and revealing dialog with the brooding, volcanic Down Under bloke.

INSIDE TENNIS: You’re obviously a fantastic talent, and a greatly entertaining player.  Do you think you’re applying all you have in your gut and heart to becoming the best pro you can?

NICK KYRGIOS: No.

IT: Is that something you want to address and change?

NK: I don’t know.

IT: Do you enjoy the sport? Is it something that you really love, or do you find it more frustrating than enjoyable?

NK: Yeah, I mean, at times, like, I’ve previously said, I don’t love the sport. But, I don’t really know what else to do without it. I obviously like playing the game. It’s a massive part of my life. But, yeah, I don’t really know.

IT: A number of great players, including John McEnroe, Tsonga and even Federer briefly, didn’t have coaches. Is there something you like about the freedom of not having an adviser? Of just trying to figure it out yourself?

NK: Yeah, I like that.

IT: What do you like about it?

NK: Just doing whatever you want, I guess. I like it.

WHAT MAKES SERENA SERENA: Serena Williams said she feels dialed in and focused and that the rain delay today gave her time to sit down, calm down and get some key tips from her French coach Patrick Mouratoglou. Then I asked her, “Could you talk about your intensity? Do you feel it’s just you? Is it something you embrace and love? Do you sometimes step away and say, ‘Whoa, it’s a bit too much?'”

She replied, “Yeah, it’s no secret, I’m a very intense player. I’m so passionate at my job, just like you guys are with writing. I hope you are just as passionate. This is what I do, and I love what I do. I have woken up since I was three to do this. These are the moments I live for. The passion and the intensity that I have is what makes me Serena. I can’t change, nor would I ever want to be different.”

DARE WE NOTE THAT BALLS SMELL? Dominika Cibulkova was said to be able to detect the smell of the balls that are used at all four of the Grand Slams. So BBC got the four different brands used at the four Slams and blindfolded the Slovakian and tested her claim. Without hesitation Dominika correctly determined which ball is used at which tournament – amazing! She then told IT that she just has a good nose and that she likes the smell of Wimbledon balls the best.

QUOTEBOOK

“Last week feels like another country.” – Mary Rhodes on Wimbledon going into its second week

“Well, it’s not dead.” – Madison Keys on the state of US tennis

“With my racket.” – Jo Willie Tsonga when asked how he was going to beat Andy Murray in the quarters

“I’m not going to lie. After the Djokovic match I watched every highlight again and again. I enjoyed the hell out of it.” – A still-ecstatic Sam Querrey

“Mommy hugs” – The text Coco Vandeweghe got from her mother after suffering her tough fourth round loss

“I move very well, especially when I want to.” – Serena Williams

“I have an antique collection because I’ve been playing here so long.” -– Serena on her Wimbledon towel collection

“Player power, girl power stops play on Centre Court.” – The BBC on Serena and Svetlana Kuznetsova forcing play to be stopped on a slippery Centre Court

“She’s back in the big time and we missed her.” – The BBC on Venus

“No one picks you to win, but you always have to pick yourself to win.” – Venus

“I”m really disappointed, but you can’t say my season was bad.” – Madison Keys

“He does himself no favors.” – Katherine Whitaker on Nick Kyrgios

“He’s only been fined $6,500.” – Sue Barker on the relatively well-behaved Nick Krygios

CURIOUS QUESTIONS: A reporter told Sam Querrey that his coach explained his victory over Novak Djokovic by noting that “sometimes a blind squirrel finds a nut.” The reporter then asked, “How do you feel being compared to a squirrel?”…Milos Raonic was asked, “Why were you so lousy at the beginning and so good at the end [of your five-set match which you won over David Goffin]?”

RAGING DEBATE: Is the first Monday of the second week at Wimbledon the best day in tennis? And should it be called Manic Monday, Magic Monday, Marvelous Monday (or if you’re British) Murray Monday?

GO FIGURE: Jo-Willie Tsonga pulled out of the French Open with an abductor injury. His foe today – fellow Frenchman and friend Richard Gasquet pulled out of their match with a bad back. Tsonga carried one of his bags off the court for his injured foe…While other players use their off time to go to Beyoncé concerts or West End plays, Federer watches soccer and tennis and plays with his kids in the yard. He always lets them win…Federer tied Martina Navratilova’s record of 306 Grand Slam matches won. Going into Monday’s play Federer was the only men’s player not to have double-faulted in the tournament…John Isner said yes, Sunday during his long match against Jo Willie Tsonga, he did think of his 11:05 marathon match against Nicolas Mahut. He also called for a tie-break in the fifth set of all matches, rather than having them played out. Federer offered a curious compromise, saying that there should be a tie-break after a match goes to 12-12 in the fifth…Dominika Cibulkova is scheduled to get married Saturday, but said that if she wins her match tomorrow, she’ll postpone the wedding – no problemo.

AMERICA ROCKS THE FOURTH OF JULY: The fourth of July – red, white and blue – is all about patriotism, pride and pyrotechnics. And Americans here at Wimbledon were poised for plenty of celebrations. But early on this shockingly sunny day, things looked as grim as Washington’s army hunkering down and trying to survive the winter by the frigid Delaware river.

Wouldn’t you know it, a Russian first rained on our parade. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova dismissed Californian Coco Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-3. Madison Keys’ match against Simona Halep got off to a good start. Big Madison won the first set. But America’s rising star, seeded No. 9, cramped and her forehand proved to be a bit of a traitor. The Romanian Halep, the No. 5 seed, played superb defense to come back to win 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3

Then, on Centre Court, an Alpine lad by the name of Federer proved to be one jolly Roger as he raised the Swiss flag and dismissed another Californian, Stevie Johnson 6-2, 6-3, 7-5.

So much for patriotism. America’s dreamy Wimbledon seemed to be going down an ample British drain. Then a fellow named Sam rode into this Wimbledon town – his big serve in his holster. We’re not sure if Sam Querrey was named for Uncle Sam, and in the past he hasn’t exactly been a cutting-edge patriot. Remember, he suffered a dreadful Davis Cup loss to the Brits in San Diego, and he declined playing the Olympics. But he certainly turned the tide today, downing France’s Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 7-6 (5) 6-4 to avenge the painful loss suffered yesterday by John Isner to another Frenchman, Jo-Willie Tsonga.

Okay, America was at least was on the scoreboard. Now it was time to get serious and call in our best troops – a couple of gals with plenty of firepower – Serena and Venus.

Serena came out slow and was down 4-5 in the first set and then (in part due to a rain delay) won nine straight games as she marched to a 7-5, 6-0 win over Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova. Then her older sis, the No. 8 seed, dismissed Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, 7-6, 6-4, to reach her first Wimbledon quarterfinals since 2010.

So Americans lost their first three matches of the day and then won the last three. But with Serena, Venus and Querrey still in the draw, it felt like a good day to wave old glory. After all, more than any other country, we have three players who can still gain Wimbledon singles glory. Runners-up France and Russia just have two.

HEADLINES:

Murray May Never Get a Better Chance Than This

People’s Sunday Just Not the Same With No Henman Torture

Murray Will Know the Title Is Now His to Lose

Viktor Troicki Threw an Absolute Wobbler at Wimbledon

JUST WONDERING: Could Venus possibly win Wimbledon…Will Sam Querrey use his Wimbledon run to turn his career around…Does Coco Vandeweghe have the second-best serve in women’s tennis?

DOI’S COY TROY BOY: If Japan’s Misaki Doi were dating a particularly clever guy who went to USC he would be called a coy, Troy, Doi boyfriend.