Nick Kyrgios joked it was “love at first sight” with Andy Murray but that will not stop him trying to end the home favourite’s hopes of a second Wimbledon title today.
Murray’s meeting with the flashy young Australian will be the most eagerly-anticipated match of today’s fourth round.
The pair are good friends and Murray has been one of Kyrgios’ most vocal supporters when the 21-year-old has come under fire for his on-court behaviour.
Murray again stood up for Kyrgios after more negative headlines after he earned a code violation during his second-round win over Dustin Brown and was then involved in a tense exchange with reporters.
Murray was touting Kyrgios’ talent even before his stunning run to the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2014 and victory over Rafael Nadal.
Kyrgios could not recall when their friendship started, but said: “It was love at first sight. When Andy walks in (to the locker room), we see each other, we just give each other a look. We can’t stop looking at each other for a bit.
“We joke a lot. In the locker room, it’s just instant banter. We just have a lot of fun.”
15th seed Kyrgios returned to Court One on middle Sunday to finish off a 6-3 6-7 (2/7) 6-3 6-4 victory over Feliciano Lopez and will play for the fourth day in a row.
“Physically, I feel good,” said Kyrgios. “Mentally, I feel good. I’ve been to the fourth round at grand slams before. I know what to expect.”
The tournament has a different dynamic following the shock exit of two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic, leaving Murray as the title favourite.
Kyrgios said: “I think as soon as Novak loses, you look at Andy and you look at Federer’s eyes light up. They think that their chances probably doubled. I think a lot of people in the locker room now believe they can win it.”
Juan Martin del Potro’s first Wimbledon campaign for three years ended as the Argentine crumbled to a 6-7(4) 7-6(6) 7-5 6-1 defeat by Frenchman Lucas Pouille in the third round yesterday.
After three left wrist operations in three years had put his career in jeopardy, the 27-year-old remained upbeat about his prospects of rejoining the game’s elite, however.
“I played three matches in this tournament against big players. I did a great match today against the 30th player in the world and I was there very, very close to winning,” said a weary Del Potro, who has battled back to 165 after his ranking fell off a cliff.
Seventh seed Richard Gasquet will have to put aside his long friendship with fellow Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga when they do battle today.
Last year’s semi-finalist Gasquet moved stealthily into the last 16 finishing off Spain’s Albert Ramos 2-6 7-6(5) 6-2 6-3. Roger Federer faces Steve Johnson at 1pm today while Sam Querrey — conqueror of Djokovic — faces France’s Nicolas Mahut.
Women’s world number one Serena Williams kept her Wimbledon title defence on track yesterday, downing Germany’s Annika Beck 6-3 6-0 with a display of power and booming serves to chalk up her 300th grand slam victory.
Williams looked in no mood to follow men’s top seed Djokovic out of tournament and treated the middle Sunday party crowd to an imperious 51-minute performance.
Warning her last-16 opponent, Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, that there is more to come, she said: “I thought it was good, I still want to get out to a little bit of a faster start but I was really focused and calm today.”
Williams also had a word of sympathy for Djokovic.
“I thought Novak would come back. I was surprised he didn’t, actually. But it happens to all of us,” she said.
Looking at Djokovic’s record, Williams said: “He’s won four (grand slams) in a row. I won four in a row last year. I think that’s historic in itself.”
Kuznetsova received a code violation for on-court coaching as she produced a stirring comeback to reach fourth round for the first time in eight years with a 6-7 (1) 6-2 8-6 win over American Sloane Stephens on Sunday.
After Stephens had taken a 2-1 lead in the decider, the Russian lost her temper with Serbian umpire Marijana Veljovic when the official accused Kuznetsova of receiving illegal coaching from Carlos Martinez, who was sat in the players’ box.
“I bet you all my prize money he didn’t say anything,” Kuznetsova yelled.
The exchange continued into the change of ends with the seething 13th seed declaring: “You’re not doing well.”
The distraction appeared to have thrown Kuznetsova off stride as she allowed Stephens, seeded 18th, to take a 5-2 lead. But just when it seemed as if the controversy would cost her dear, Kuznetsova produced the kind of form that carried her to two grand slam titles and won six of the next seven games.
Stevens had broken for a 4-2 lead, served for the match at 5-3 but in the end she was powerless to stop Kuznetsova from booking a last-16 showdown with Williams.
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