Nick Kyrgios' free pass to the men's final is Wimbledon's worst nightmare

Nick Kyrgios’ free pass to the men’s final is Wimbledon’s worst nightmare

In many ways, a Wimbledon final is the ultimate establishment opportunity. It brings together royals, heads of state, Hollywood stars and beloved former champions. Kyrgios, however, has such disdain for traditional protocol that moments after his fourth-round victory over Brandon Nakashima, he changed into a red cap to flout the all-white rule. The mere thought of him accepting the golden Challenge Cup from the Duchess of Cambridge is enough to make the denizens of the Members’ Balcony gag on their strawberries.

It is, admittedly, a struggle to imagine Kyrgios the victor being led upstairs for the obligatory small talk with the future king and queen. As anyone who has dared to question him at these championships will attest, he tends not to bother with jokes. He reduced a press conference to an ageist rant about those officiating his matches having poor eyesight, while closing a perfectly reasonable question about his dress code violation with the words: “You do it, champ.” Unlike Nadal or Roger Federer, or even his potential opponent Novak Djokovic, deference is not his forte.

The mind wonders what Kyrgios has planned if they win on Sunday

While the likely final between Kyrgios and Djokovic is a godsend for TV executives, the prospect will put Wimbledon on edge. Over the years, pitting Kyrgios against the Serb is like throwing baking soda into a vinegar bath. In 2019, Australia’s enfant terrible called Djokovic ‘fluid’, alleging he had a ‘morbid obsession with wanting to be loved’. Poking fun at his post-victory habit of spreading love to every corner of the pitch, Kyrgios sang: “If I play him and beat him, I celebrate in front of him. It would be hilarious.

Wimbledon is unlikely to find him as comical. Although there has been a thaw between the two of late – the Aussie even sided with Djokovic in his vaccine row in January, threatening to ‘walk around Melbourne Park in my Novak mask’ – Kyrgios remains a dangerously unpredictable finalist. Where Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer, who have shared 16 of the last 18 Wimbledon titles between them, understand the art of being respectful, Kyrgios revels in his disruptive cast. The spirit doesn’t understand what he has planned if he wins, especially with a Netflix team in tow.

This 135th edition of Wimbledon has already been unusually busy, disfigured by lower than normal attendancethe removal of all points from the world rankings due to the banning of Russian and Belarusian players, and even a fight between security guards. But Nadal’s decision to walk away from the semi-finals to protect his body could yet open a new front of contention, with Kyrgios in the final. While Wimbledon balked at handing the trophy to Dannil Medvedev, they could still be forced to glorify the most mercurial and polarizing player of them all. This perhaps marks a suitably chaotic finale for a tournament like no other.

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