LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Nick Kyrgios shrugged off a shoulder injury to beat Brandon Nakashima in five sets and book a place in the Wimbledon quarter-finals on Monday, staying on course for a blockbuster clash against Rafael Nadal.
The maverick Australian was on his best behaviour just two days after his stormy third-round victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas, winning 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 6-2.
Kyrgios kept his cool on a sun-drenched Centre Court, in a match lasting three hours and 11 minutes, to book a last-eight tie against Chile’s Cristian Garin.
The 27-year-old recovered from a slow start and his shoulder issue to hit his groundstrokes more freely as the match went on.
Kyrgios, who had regular physio treatments, hammered 79 winners — including 35 aces — breaking the 20-year-old Nakashima’s serve three times to improve to 11-2 on grass in 2022.
The last time the 40th-ranked player reached the last eight at a major was at the Australian Open in 2015 — a year after he reached the same stage on his debut at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
Kyrgios will next play Garin, who battled back from two sets down and saved two match points to beat 19th seed Alex de Minaur of Australia.
The unseeded Chilean took the third set on a tiebreak and went on to win 2-6, 5-7, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 7-6 (10/6) in a gruelling contest lasting four hours and 34 minutes.
Elsewhere, 11th seed Taylor Fritz cruised past Australian qualifier Jason Kubler 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.
Nadal, chasing the third leg of a calendar Grand Slam, found his rhythm in his third-round match against Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego and faces Dutch 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp later on Monday.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion, twice a winner at the All England Club, swept into the last 16 in straight sets after needing four sets to progress in his opening two matches.
In the women’s competition, Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina reached the quarter-finals for the first time with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Petra Martic of Croatia.
She will face either Alize Cornet of France or Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic for a place in the semi-finals.
Harmony Tan, who defeated Serena Williams in the first round, takes on American Amanda Anisimova.
Tan, ranked 115th, needed more than three hours to see off Williams but on Saturday she hit top form, demolishing Britain’s Katie Boulter 6-1, 6-1 in just 51 minutes.
The most eye-catching match of the day in the top half of the draw is a contest between fourth seed Paula Badosa of Spain and 2019 champion Simona Halep, who is yet to drop a set.
Badosa is the only member of the world’s top 10 — along with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur — left in the women’s tournament.
Earlier, Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton said tournament bosses had lodged an appeal against fines handed down by the WTA women’s tour for bans on Russian and Belarusian players.
The All England Club imposed the sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and players were also prevented from playing in Wimbledon warm-up events.
Both the ATP men’s tour and the WTA reacted to the Wimbledon ban by stripping the Grand Slam of ranking points.
The Daily Mail reported that the Lawn Tennis Association, which runs the sport in Britain, was fined US$750,000 and the All England Club US$250,000.
“It’s subject to a legal process so I can’t comment specifically, but what I will say is that we stand by the decision we made,” said Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton. “We have appealed.”