Australia bad boy Nick Kyrgios insists he has detected an unmistakable change in the demeanour of leading title contenders, including Britain’s Andy Murray, following the Wimbledon demise of top seed Novak Djokovic.
World No1 and defending Wimbledon champion Djokovic, the current holder of all four grand slam crowns, crashed out of the tournament following a shock defeat to American Sam Querrey on Saturday.
Kyrgios, seeded 15th, is set to face world No2 and now competition favourite Murray on Centre Court tomorrow for a place in the quarter-finals after dispatching Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday.
When asked whether players are viewing the tournament differently now Djokovic is out, Kyrgios said: “For sure. As soon as Novak loses, you look at Andy and [Roger] Federer and their eyes light up. They think their chances probably doubled.
“A lot of people in the locker room now believe they can win it. If the stars align and they’re playing well, there’s a lot of people that can go get it.”
Murray holds a conclusive head-to-head record against Kyrgios, having won all four previous meetings. Three of those have come in grand slams – the US Open, French Open and Australia Open – with Murray conceding just the one set.
Despite such an ignominious record, Kyrgios is adamant that he has the tools to overcome Murray and de-rail the 29-year-old’s bid for a second Wimbledon title, which would represent the third grand slam of his career.
“I definitely feel he’s beatable. He’s only human, although at the same time he’s a great player,” added Kyrgios. “Last time I played him was at the US Open and I thought I made some inroads there. I feel like I know what to do. I’ve got a game-plan.”
The winners of the Kyrgios versus Murray tussle with play either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Richard Gasquet in the last eight. French 12th seed Tsonga overcame American John Isner 19-17 in the fifth and deciding set of an epic encounter today.
Tsonga eventually prevailed 6-7 (3-7), 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 19-17 after four hours and 24 minutes on Court Two. Gasquet’s progression was a little more straightforward, dispatching Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-3, while Juan Martin del Potro failed to capitalise on his victory over fourth seed Stan Wawrinka, losing in four sets to France’s Lucas Pouille.
Reigning women’s champion Serena Williams, meanwhile, remained on course for a seventh Wimbledon title by crushing Germany’s Annika Beck 6-3, 6-0 on Centre Court.