October 1, 2022

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Novak Djokovic unwittingly delivered four words after his Wimbledon triumph that will haunt Nick Kyrgios for the rest of his career.

The chicken comes before the egg with Nick Kyrgios.

The Aussie fought admirably as he became another statistic in Novak Djokovic’s Wimbledon supremacy, but he also proved all his critics right.

It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to work out where the 27-year-old lost it — just as much as the Serb champion won it.

It turned out to be one of the most simple, predictable battles of the entire tournament.

Kyrgios fell in the exact fashion he was expected to. His emotional meltdowns and hysterics towards his player’s box were almost a cliche.

It’s blatantly obvious where he fell apart and it’s unfair to say — black-and-white — that he lost because of those emotional frailties. It is much bigger than that.

When it came to the big points, the biggest moments of Kyrgios’ career, Djokovic ate him for breakfast. And Kyrgios handed him the spoon.

Djokovic told ESPN after the match Kyrgios “lost it” in the moment where the final was won and lost.

The moment arrived with Kyrgios ahead 40-0 on his service game at 4-4 in the third set.

There was a brief moment, nothing more, when Djokovic — the coldest man in tennis — raged and barked some words at his player’s box. Todd Woodbridge said in commentary Djokovic gave his team a “mouthful”.

His emotions and focus were perfectly centred just seconds later — an astonishing thing to watch.

It was the exact opposite at the other end of the court.

Djokovic nails a passing shot winner down the line. 40-15.

Kyrgios drops a tough volley into the net. 40-30.

Kyrgios coughs up a double fault. 40-40.

Kyrgios hits a backhand into the net. Game over.

Buried beneath an avalanche of unforced errors when he needed to show his class.

“That 40-0 game, he would probably be very upset with himself for losing that game,” Djokovic said after the match.

“I didn’t win it, he lost that game with his unforced errors. I stayed there, pushed him to the limit and got the reward.”

The suggestion that Kyrgios “lost it” will haunt Kyrgios for the rest of his career.

From that moment on, Kyrgios was in the Djokovic torture rack. Nobody escapes.

“First he takes your legs, then he takes your soul,” US tennis great Andy Roddick tweeted during the 2021 US Open.

It’s why it’s too simple to say Kyrgios lost it. Djokovic won it with his clinical, robot-like style that has won him 21 grand slams.

Kyrgios was as hot as a pistol. His mind scrambled. His emotions frazzled.

And that is the sport. Tennis is played between the ears and, in that sense, Nick simply wasn’t good enough — and it’s no shame to be swept aside by arguably the greatest player of all time.

Mental resilience and that inexplicable ability to produce magic when it matters is the greatest weapon in tennis. It is so much more powerful than Kyrgios’ weapon-like serve. It’s more powerful than Rafael Nadal’s service return and more powerful than Roger Federer’s volley.

It’s everything — and Kyrgios has none of it.

It was his tennis that first triggered the tantrums — not the other way round. The two are enmeshed together in a vicious cycle with no end in sight.

It was there again when the match first swung in Djokovic’s favour with the 35-year-old serving for the second set at 0-40.

An unforced error prompts a snarl towards his player’s box. Another unforced error has him screaming, “Say something” towards his team.

When it mattered, Kyrgios imploded and it is something that will continue to happen unless he develops a way to play absolutely perfect, flawless tennis that stops his monster from coming out.

Djokovic just waited for the monster to poke its head up and he took its head clean off with one swipe.

“I just wanted to practice getting his serves back and eventually wait for the opportunity. And it was presented.” Djokovic said.

“He played a couple of loose points, double fault on deuce, started talking to his box. Then I felt maybe that’s the moment where I could break his serve, which happened.

“It was a huge momentum shift I think because up to that point, we were quite even. Two sets to one up, things are looking slightly different.”

In the end, it was the original tennis bad boy that summed it all up.

John McEnroe said: “In a way he beat himself. I don’t get that part. I get that he’s burning off nerves and steam. Maybe they should all go and file out. Maybe that would actually do something.

“It’s their fault at set all, four all, 40-0!? He lost the game because of them?”

The brutal truth is he lost because he wasn’t good enough.

Originally published as ‘He lost it’: Djokovic comment will torture Kyrgios for a long time

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