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Nick Kyrgios enjoys an immaculate performance at Wimbledon against Filip Krajinovic

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CNN

Nick Kyrgios thought his first round match was one of the worst he had ever played at Wimbledon; his performance against Filip Krajinovic two days later, however, may have been his best.

The Aussie produced a masterclass of service when he swept Krajinovic, a beaten finalist at the Queen’s Club two weeks ago, in just one hour and 25 minutes on Thursday, firing 24 aces over the course of a 6-2, 6-3 victory. , 6-1 .

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It was a statement performance, and Kyrgios knew it.

“I just wanted to show people that I’m really good,” he told reporters, “and I feel like sometimes I don’t get the respect.”

Kyrgios has long proven a divisive figure in tennis: on the one hand, one of the game’s great artists and talents; on the other, a player who receives criticism for his behavior on the field and outbursts towards the referees.

But against Krajinovic, he let his tennis do the talking and seemed completely unplayable at times.

It wasn’t until the start of the second set that the Serb took a point off Krygios’ serve, something he only managed to do nine times throughout the match.

Kyrgios celebrates the match point won against Krajinovic in less than 90 minutes.

The on-court speed gun stopped working at one point, but then came back to life in time to record a Kyrgios serve at 135 miles per hour, eight mph shy of his 2019 tournament record.

Mixed in with her masterful serve were some deft touches, notably a perfectly weighted lob that delivered her first break of the third set, eliciting chants of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” from her gold-clad fans, and clean, accurate ball strikes. . from the baseline.

“I really wanted to go out there today and remind everyone that I can play really good tennis with no distractions,” Kyrgios said. “The crowd enjoyed it today and it was like business.”

The 27-year-old hasn’t always endeared himself to the Wimbledon crowd. He admitted after his first-round match against Britain’s Paul Jubb that he spat at a fan who felt he was “disrespecting” him.

When asked about that incident after Thursday’s game, Kyrgios was upbeat. “I played against Filip Krajinovic today. Don’t you want to know how I played? he fired back.

Kyrgios confronted the media on several occasions during the post-match press conference.

“There was just nothing the media could tell me I did wrong today,” he said as he reflected on his performance.

“I just know that you can’t ask me anything and remove anything. I love it because you can’t write anything. You’ll say? Nothing today. I have stunned them all.

In fact, some of his shots against Krajinovic were amazingly good. He racked up 50 game-winning shots during the match, including a backhand to seal the win.

That set up a hugely exciting third-round clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas after the fourth seed’s straight-sets victory against Jordan Thompson.

Kyrgios (left) and Krajinovic (right) shake hands after their second round match at Wimbledon.

A deep run at Wimbledon feels overdue for Kyrgios. His best result here remains a quarterfinal appearance in 2014 when he made his tournament debut aged 19, in the process beating the then world number one. 1 Rafael Nadal.

On Thursday, Kyrgios withdrew from the men’s doubles event to give himself ample opportunity to recover: “I’m a singles player, my priority has always been the singles,” he explained, saying in his on-court interview that this year Wimbledon has been “circled on my calendar almost all year.”

“Overall, it’s a tournament that I think is my best chance of winning a Grand Slam out of the four,” Kyrgios added.

The world number 40 is rarely afraid to speak frankly, and this year was no exception. In May, Kyrgios spoke about the mental health issues he has dealt with throughout his tennis career, recounting his struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, as well as self-harm.

He told Wide World of Sports that he felt “useless” at one stage in his life and had been deeply affected by abuse on social media. He added, however, that the Covid-19 pandemic has helped him get a handle on his mental health, and at Wimbledon, Kyrgios said he is adopting a more positive frame of mind.

“I just feel like I’m comfortable in my own skin. Some people love to take me down, but it’s not possible anymore,” she said.

Play like he did on Thursday, and it will be impossible for anyone to take down Kyrgios on the court as well, such was his supremacy against Krajinovic.

“I have a lot of confidence in myself, in all the challenges that I have overcome in my life,” he said.

“I’m proud to be up here and do it my way. To be able to produce tennis like this at Wimbledon is a dream come true for any tennis player.”

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