No one thinks Nick Kyrgios can win a major, but he’s never cared and for that he’s grateful.
Two days after beating Roger Federer in his first ATP final at Toronto, where the 23-year-old Canadian is rediscovering his mojo, he was in-and-out of a tussle against John Isner. A match that should have taken mere minutes turned into four hours, with Isner rallying from a set down to force a fifth on tiebreak.
That’s right, they needed a fifth. Seriously. From the 0-2 to 1-2 to 3-2. On break points. Isner is 4-0 in those five-setters against Kyrgios, who followed up his scintillating win with a straight-sets victory against Richard Gasquet at Stanford last weekend.
“I feel like I have no trouble serving. Like I’m certain that I can win if I have to go a little bit longer,” Kyrgios said following his win over Federer, referring to Isner and the retractable roof that covers Toronto’s outdoor stadiums. “I don’t really see it as a huge problem if it’s raining. I think it’s fine.
“I’m sure if it’s pouring and going all four hours that he’s probably not enjoying that as much. I know if it’s raining and he’s a little bit bothered, then I’m probably going to try to take advantage of that.”
Based on Wimbledon, Wimbledon and Tokyo – where he was the runner-up in 2012, almost beating Rafael Nadal – the ceiling for Kyrgios continues to be a Grand Slam title. There are pros and cons to that, though. The standard to which he measures himself and the expectation he sets himself are both on an upward trajectory after a summer in which he’s gone from erratic pantomime to serious champion.
In July at Wimbledon, he had to settle for the runner-up slot when he lost in the second round to Mischa Zverev.
“I’m fine with being pushed out of Wimbledon. It’s nice, because I felt like I played very well the whole tournament,” he said. “But it’s also pretty tough to finish in the second round and still feel like you’re doing well. I feel like it just adds fuel to my fire because when you can be pushed out you know what your next goal is.”
He dealt with that burden by skipping Wimbledon’s zonal qualifying, even though he could have fought his way into the main draw by playing hard at the Gstaad Club in Switzerland.
As for a Grand Slam and his first major title, it’s not up to him.
“I know that I can’t stress enough how much I’m trying and how much I care about it,” he said. “I know it could happen and I know that I can do it, but who knows? It could go the other way.
“I’m just really enjoying my time right now. In the past I haven’t been too much in love with the year and what I’m doing and the struggles and the ups and downs. I’m having fun.”
And enjoying them in Toronto, where he now has two titles in the books and is looking as comfortable as ever on court.