Will Kyrgios-Djokovic produce “fireworks”?

Will Kyrgios-Djokovic produce “fireworks”?

Venue: All England Club Date: July 10 Time: 14:00 BST
Cover: Live on BBC One from 1pm BST, with radio coverage, online, BBC iPlayer, Red Button, connected TVs and mobile app.

What could happen when two of tennis’ most polarizing players meet on their sport’s biggest stage? “Fireworks” – according to Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic faces Australian Nick Kyrgios in Sunday’s Wimbledon men’s singles final – one a 20-time Grand Slam champion, the other a major singles debutant.

Both flammable on a tennis court.

From racket smash to arguments with umpires and testy exchanges with the crowd, these two players have a catalog of fiery episodes behind them that make for a fascinating match.

Of course, in front of royalty and with a prestigious trophy on the line, they could be on their best behavior, but since Djokovic himself is expecting an explosive final, let’s see why that might be.

Rants and racquet blows

Both players have had a lot of run-ins with referees over the years. If they are unhappy with something, they often don’t hold back.

In the 2020 Australian Open final, Djokovic tapped referee Damien Dumusois on the foot, angrily telling him “You made yourself famous in that match. Great job” as he was unhappy with receive time violations. The Serb later apologized for his outburst.

Seven months later, Djokovic was kicked out of the US Open after accidentally hitting a ball on a linesman during his fourth-round match – he hit the ball in frustration at losing serve and kicked it. struck behind him angrily.

The 35-year-old also aired his feelings about his equipment, including a spectacular demolition of a racquet in Monte Carlo in 2019 – and threw another into the crowd in that same game – and also mutilated one another in his 2021 Australian Open quarter-final against Alexander Zverev.

A ball player was left sweeping the pieces of the pitch after the Melbourne one and although he acknowledged it wasn’t the best way to channel his emotions, Djokovic added: “When I broke this racquet, things started to change for me in a positive direction.”

Kyrgios also wiped out racquets, leaving a pile of metal and ropes next to his seat last month during a substitution in a win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Halle.

They’re not all wasted – he handed a barely recognizable racquet to a young fan in Washington in 2019 as a memento.

The 27-year-old also had countless code breaches for swearing and calculated he had paid around 800,000 Australian dollars (£455,000) in fines during his career.

“Love-hate relationship” with the crowd

Following his semi-final win over Britain’s Cameron Norrie on Friday, Djokovic was booed from parts of center court when he kissed a fan who bothered him.

There was an even louder boo when he mentioned his next opponent, Kyrgios.

It will be interesting to see who gets the most support from the almost 15,000 spectators in the stands on Sunday.

Despite his huge success and supreme talent, Djokovic often found himself unable to warm the hearts of those who watch it.

When he faced Roger Federer in the 2019 Wimbledon final, an epic encounter was spoiled by boos from the Serb.

His misses were applauded and he was mocked in a partisan atmosphere more often found in football stadiums than on center court.

Djokovic saved match points and won a classic final, with pundits urging fans to show a great player more respect.

He often reaches out to the crowd to encourage cheers for him when they aren’t coming.

His reluctance to get a Covid-19 shot didn’t sit well with some – a shout of ‘Novax’ could be heard during Norrie’s game – and his expulsion from Australia earlier this year due to his status. vaccine has also divided opinion.

But it seems clear that Djokovic just wants to be loved – he was moved to tears in last year’s US Open final by the raucous reaction at Arthur Ashe Stadium as he unsuccessfully tried to defend himself against Daniil Medvedev.

Kyrgios, meanwhile, also has a complex relationship with those who watch him.

He admitted spitting in the direction of a fan during his first round match at Wimbledon – being fined $10,000 (£8,300) for his behavior during that match.

But he also engaged warmly with the fans, asking one of the spectators where he should serve match point at Wimbledon last year.

He also remains enthralling viewing – there’s barely been a vacancy at his matches at Wimbledon for the past two weeks, and his clever shots are making for popular music videos.

“It’s a love-hate relationship with Nick,” Australian doubles great Todd Woodbridge told BBC Sport. “People are not in favor of the way he behaves, the way he talks and the way he respects people, but they look at him. For this reason, we are going to consider huge ratings for television in Australia.

The Wimbledon final will take place at the end of a week. Kyrgios has found out he is due to appear in an Australian court next month over an allegation of common assault.

Tennis “light off”

Even if you take the emotions out of the equation, the brand of tennis Kyrgios brings is explosive enough.

Underarm serves and hot dogs mean he mixes the unconventional and unpredictable with a huge serve that’s notoriously hard to crack.

The pair have faced each other twice – with Kyrgios winning both encounters in 2017 in straight sets.

“He plays with the lights off every time he steps onto the pitch,” Djokovic said of Kyrgios, with whom he had a rocky relationship in the past. before a found “bromance”.

“Just a lot of power in his serve and in his game. So I’m sure he’s going to go for it. He’s definitely going to be aggressive. I expect him to.”

In the past, Kyrgios has spoken about his motivational issues – saying training is boring and even banned for a perceived lack of effort – but that’s not the case with big occasions.

“He’s a big game player,” Djokovic said. “If you look at his career, the best tennis he’s played is always against the best players. That’s why we all respect him, because we know what he can do.

“The experience I have at this level, playing in the final against someone who has never played in a Grand Slam final, might be slightly in my favour. At the same time, knowing who he is and how he manages his tennis and his attitude on the court, he doesn’t seem to be under much pressure.

“One thing is for sure, there will be a lot of fireworks emotionally from both of us,” he added.

“It’s going to be an interesting game.”

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