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Three to See, Wimbledon Day 4: Kyrgios vs. Krajinovic; Andreescu vs. Rybakina; Shapovalov vs. Nakashima
Many people are asking: “Can Nick Kyrgios win Wimbledon?” Let's first preview his second-rounder—along with two other must-see matches.
Published Jun 29, 2022
Bianca Andreescu vs. Elena Rybakina
“Bianca is back” is a refrain tennis fans hear every few months. So far, the 22-year-old Canadian’s career has mostly been spent returning from injury, and then, once she’s in decent form, getting injured again. This time around, she’s been gaining momentum in a new place: the grass-court swing. Andreescu had never won a match at Wimbledon before Tuesday, but she’s coming off a trip to the final in Bad Homburg. There doesn’t seem to be any reason why her muscular game can’t work on the slicker surface.
For now, the question is whether it will work against Rybakina, a Russian-born player who was allowed entry because she represents Kazakhstan. Rybakina is currently ranked 23rd, 33 spots higher than Andreescu. But this 6-footer, who has rangy power from the baseline, was just 1-2 in her two Wimbledon tune-ups.
Whichever way their first meeting goes, these two should trade a lot of well-struck two-handed backhands. And after Garbiñe Muguruza’s first-round exit, there’s room for the winner to go farther in the top section of the draw. Winner: Andreescu
Nick Kyrgios vs. Filip Krajinovic
Many people are asking: “Can Nick Kyrgios win Wimbledon?” The Aussie agitator’s stock went up when the top seed in his quarter, Matteo Berrettini, pulled out. But that stock took a quick dip again when Kyrgios actually took the court…and nearly lost to 219th-ranked Paul Jubb in a five-set first-rounder.
Now Kyrgios will take a step up in weight class. Krajinovic is ranked 31, and he just reached the final of Queen’s Club, where he lost to Berrettini. The Serb also won his first match ever at Wimbledon on Tuesday, albeit in five close sets over Jiri Lehecka. He and Kyrgios have played once at the ATP level, and twice in Challengers. Kyrgios won each time, but (a) the most recent meeting between them came in 2015, and (b) the closest was on grass, in Nottingham, where Kyrgios won in a third-set tiebreaker.
Kyrgios is more talented, Krajinovic more solid, and the Serb he seems to be a guy who won’t be intimidated by whatever antics ensue on the other side of the net. Whether Kyrgios having a chance to go deep at a major for the first time—he’s never reached the semis—will make him more motivated, or more likely to lose his composure entirely, I don’t know; he did spit at a fan in his match against Jubb. ("I would not be doing that to someone who was supporting me," he said.) But I think he has a little—just a little—too much for Krajinovic on this day. Winner: Kyrgios
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Denis Shapovalov vs. Brandon Nakashima
Shapovalov is one of the bigger unknowns of the men’s draw at the moment. He made the semifinals here last year, and played a credible match against Novak Djokovic once there. With Berrettini knocked out of his quarter, he also has a slightly better chance of getting back to that round than he did just a few days ago. But Shapo has also been in a slump: Before his five-set, first-round win on Tuesday, he had lost five consecutive opening-round matches, dating back to Rome. At some point, he’s going to snap out of it and play his game again; the question is when.
This leaves Nakashima, a 20-year-old Californian who has been knocking on the door of the Top 50, with an opportunity at a signature win. He can’t match the left-handed Shapovalov’s shotmaking verve, but he has won eight matches during the grass season so far; that’s seven more than Shapo. In this, their first meeting, the match will begin on the Canadian’s racquet; we’ll see if the American is ready to grab it for himself. Winner: Nakashima