It was no surprise that crowd support was mixed for one of the most divisive players in professional tennis, Nick Kyrgios, on the hallowed grass at Wimbledon’s Centre Court.
However, coming up against a somewhat controversial champion in Novak Djokovic, there still seemed to be plenty of people cheering for the 27-year-old Canberran.
Even in the warm-up before the match, Kyrgios was getting cheers as he returned the ball with some tricky moves, even showing off his classic “tweener” return through his legs.
Through the first set, spectators kept yelling, “C’mon Nick”, which periodically was followed by, “C’mon Novak”.
However, watching Kyrgios up close on Centre Court, it is clear how much support from his family means to him, even if he does demand more from them at times.
His father, sister, girlfriend and support team were watching on in the front row of the player’s box and throughout the match they communicated with each other.
Kyrgios looked at them when things were going particularly well, and also would yell at them when things weren’t working out for him.
As an athlete without a coach, it looked like this is where he draws much of his inspiration and energy from.
‘We’re going for the underdog’
While the crowd at Centre Court was split in their support for the two finalists, at the Hope and Anchor pub in south London the patrons were firmly backing Kyrgios.
Australians packed their way into the sun-drenched beer garden at the rear of the venue to watch the final as London baked in in 29C weather.
Xavier — who has lived in London for eight years — had organised an Australian meet-up at the venue.
“Aussies in London, doing it for Nick!” he exclaimed, and said he was hoping for more fireworks from the game.
Kenisha, a Londoner, said she was supporting Kyrgios because he was not expected to win.
“Because he’s the underdog — Djokovic has won too many times.” she told the ABC.
Her friend, Claire, held the same opinion.
“Yeah we’re going for the underdog,” she said, adding that she enjoyed Kyrgios’s on-court antics. “We like the drama.”
‘We’ll see him again’
Will — a “half-Australian” who grew up in England — who was proudly wearing a Wallabies jersey while watching the final.
Feyi, another Brit, was supporting Kyrgios after attending his quarter-final win against Chile’s Cristian Garin.
“I saw him in person in the quarters. He was absolutely electric,” he said.
“His serve just sounds so different off the racquet compared to anyone else.
George, a Brit, said tennis was more enjoyable when Kyrgios was playing.
“It was nice to have someone to get behind, as young people, making the sport exciting,” he told the ABC.
“It was great. He did his best.”
His friend, Olivia, agreed.
“He brings a completely different personality to the game, so we were really rooting for him. So, it’s a shame, but maybe next year, next time, he’ll win.
Rachel, from Perth, had donned an Australian flag for the final, but was disappointed with the result.
But she still had praise for the Australian and his achievements, and said she expected him to be back and competing at the top again soon.
“He got a bit lucky before, with Nadal, but he played some awesome tennis before that. He definitely deserved to be here. I’m happy to see him in a grand slam and, hopefully, he can take one home one day,” she said.
“He’s a young gun. These boys are getting old, pulling out with injury. We’ll see him again.”
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