Oh man, every time Tan wins a game we cut to her 10-year-old daughter in her box absolutely having it, and it kills me every time. what a feeling that must be, for both of them. Anismova leads 6-2 4-3 with a break, but she’s tightening with the finish in sight.
Tomljanovic breaks Cornet a second time and it must surely be a matter of time before she’s into the last eight. She leads 5-1 in the third.
Next on Centre: Botic van de Zandschulp  v Rafael Nadal .
I said Tan was making Anismova work for her consolidation and she was, but the American got there in the end, and is now three holds away from Halep. She leads 6-2 3-2.
Halep is happy with how she played and delighted to be back on Centre Court, though hadn’t noticed she’s yet to drop a set – so she says. She feels she’s getting better in every round and was really happy to come out with all the champions during yesterday’s 100th anniversary celebrations. It’ll take something decent to stop her wining a second title here, because of all the players left in the draw, her best is probably the best – and she’s closest to it.
That’s an absolute tousing, and Halep is into the last eight having not dropped a set. She’s now the favourite for the plate, and rightly so – she’s playing so smoothly and, most importantly, being kind to herself. She meets Anisimova or Tan next.
Back on No1, Anisimova has broken Tan for 6-2 2-1 – but has been forced to deuce as she attempts to consolidate – while Tomljanovic has broken Cornet again for 3-1 in the decider.
Halep has never beaten a top-five player on grass, but she rattles through a hold and is now just a game away from the quarters. Even bearing in mind Badosa’s frailty, this has been a seriously impressive effort so far.
A lot of the indignation about NK’s behaviour stems from an interpretation of it as gamesmanship/gaining undue advantage,” emails Will Wiles. “In my view top players all have their own ways to gain an edge outside of hitting the balls really well. “Tsitsipas left his opponents cooling their heels whilst he took breaks of 5-8 mins between sets (they were longer when he was losing) until the ATP clamped down. “Nadal makes them wait on his serve. “Novak has often feigned or exacerbated the appearance of injury. And a wide variety of players have tried to change the dynamic by arguing with the chair umpire and creating drama – Kyrgios just does that last one more than anybody else.
These are alphas butting heads, tennis is a game played between the ears as well as between the lines – if it was only played by the neuro-typical then we wouldn’t have nearly as much spectacle. Anybody who identifies with the outsider loves watching NK play and he certainly livens the game up! And those of us in that category certainly notice that he seems to get tagged a lot more than for example Andy Murray did when he had his LOUD internal monologue going for half the match or had a go at the umps. There hasn’t been a situation like this since Mac broke through in 1980 (a divisive player going deep in the tournament and dominating the conversation), maybe in 15 years Nick will be a national treasure too! I hope he goes all the way to the final.”
Yup, I agree with this. We don’t want robots, and if sport is an expression of personality, players who play with attitude will also display attitude.
Ach, Badosa plays a poor game right as Halep plays a decent one, ceding a tame break to trail 6-2 4-2. This is nearly over, and real talk, it’s barely got started.
“Lots more empty seats,” emails Diana Powell. “Is everyone just getting a blinder in the bar or are they bored? If they’re bored, send them to the races instead or out on a super yacht.”
I don’t think the tickets have all gone, but this is also a perennial Wimbledon problem: lots of people are there not because they love tennis but because they’re on a work jolly, so aren’t compelled by the tennis. I also wonder if the state of this draws has made a difference this year – both men’s and women’s are missing big names.
Reflections on earlier…
On No2, Tomljanovic broke Cornet in game one of the decider, but has just been broken back. I’ve not a clue who’s going to win this one.
Badosa goes long on the backhand, giving Halep 15-40 … then finds a much better version of the same to wrongfoot her opponent before making deuce. We then go back and forth, Badosa saving another break point with a banging forehand, then another, before Halep nets and we’re level in set two at 2-2.
She needs five goes at it, but eventually Anisimova clinches the first set 6-2. Tan got better during it, but there’s no sign she’ll get better enough to avoid defeat here.
On Court 2, Tomljanovic has again broken Cornet, and is now serving for set two at 5-4. They go through some deuces, but as I type that, she secures the game, and we’ll now have a decider.
Hello! Halep is making the odd mistake now as Badosa changes up with some digs own the middle, inciting a backhand that drops long and earns her deuce. Then Halep goes long again, ceding break point, only for Badosa to go long herself … before Halep’s forehand, unleashed with devastating war-cry, secures the game and gives her 6-1 2-1/
Harmony Tan is one of the feelgood stories of this Wimbledon, but it looks like she’s run out road against Anisimova. It took a few deuces, but she finally succumbed to a second break and now trails 1-4.
Meanwhile, Cornet is coming again, breaking Tomljanovic back for 4-4. Suddenly, she’s two games away from the last eight.
Halep strolls through the first set 6-1 in 23 minutes. If Badosa, who struggles with confidence, doesn’t find some and quickly, she’ll be back in the locker room before she knows it.
A love-hold for Halep, who’s found a terrific length right away. She leads 5-1 while, on No1, Anisimova has broken Tan for 2-1 in set one.
Halep is playing beautifully, swiping a backhand winner cross-court for a double-break! She leads Badosa 4-1 and this first set is disappearing rapidly.
Yup, momentum on Court 2 has shifted, Tomljanovic now up a break – consolidated as I type – in set two. Cornet still leads, 6-4 2-4, but she’s second-best at present.
Oh yes! Halep earns a break point then, as Badosa approaches, hooks a backhand from behind her ear, cross-court for a winner! Pythagoras couldn’t have created that angle, and she leads 2-1.
“I occasionally flick to the tennis – obviously my main focus is on Edgbaston,” says OBO pal Adam Roberts. “But whenever I did, it appeared that Kyrgios was making another unsuccessful challenge. Is he tennis’ Stuart Broad?”
He’s got a lot to do before we can call him that, but they do share a box-office attitude.
On Badosa v Halep, Calvin Betton, our resident coach says: “I would think Badosa wins, but it’s women’s tennis innit. Absolute chaos. The thing with Halep is that I think she’s been market corrected by a lot of the younger girls. They all do sort of what she does, but hit it harder. She’s solid, has good hands and moves exceptionally well – still better than anyone else. But there’s no weight of shot.”
On Court 2, Tomljanovic has improved and is now the better player, but it’s still 2-2 in set two, Cornet having won the first.
Badosa and Halep are good to go, while Tan and Anisimova are knocking up.
“Something missed by Sam – and you when you support him – is that this is a game,” says David Sweet. “A game played as a profession, for high stakes, but a game. The point about a game is that the rules are more important than the outcome. We create these weird events precisely because we want to see what happens when everyone accepts a set of artificial constraints. If someone rejects the constraints he is not playing the game as agreed. He may, perhaps, be creating a better game (thank you William Webb Ellis) but that’s not the point here. If Kyrgios, or McEnroe, or anyone else thinks they know better than the umpire/line judge what happened, they may, objectively, be right but they are not playing the game as set out by Wimbledon etc. and that the crowd has paid to see. Any mental ‘conditions’ are no more relevant to the argument than, for example, a mental fragility that makes some players tense up on key points: both suggest that you are not cut out for the very top, in much the same ways that my inability to play an accurate backhand rules me out of the top drawer (and second, third … for that matter).”
The game, though, has rules/laws, so if you break them – via foul, dissent or whatever – punishments for that are built in, which tells us that infractions are part of the game, never mind part of the spectacle. Which takes me onto the crowd point, which reminds me of when football commentators say “that’s the kind of thing no one wants to see,” when the reality is that it’s exactly the kind of thing that almost everyone wants to see. Sport is about pushing and breaking boundaries, a naturally subversive and emotive activity, so we shouldn’t be surprised or even disappointed when those who play it confront authority. Are we richer or poorer for having enjoyed McEnroe?
“Oooh. Some very interesting replies to my comment,” returns Sam Rajasingham. “Sorry to throw you in the middle of this!” That’s my job, all thoughts are appreciated. “Just as a quick reply: I don’t think I’m saying his behaviour isn’t damaging. I’d like to see a place where we look at both causes and consequences. I’m not sure what the answer to Kyrgios would be, I’m not a trained therapist, but I can’t see why we can’t be more compassionate. And yeah, I absolutely do feel for anyone officiating his matches! I hope no one thinks I don’t. Big hugs.”
Fritz said things might’ve gone differently had he lost his serve in the opening game of the match – he had to save break points – but says he was hitting it nicely thereafter, especially in the second. There’s no secret to it, he explains, just hard work, and he’s glad to see it paying off.
Next on No1: Amanda Anisimova  v Harmony Tan.
Next on Centre: Paulo Badosa  v Simona Halep . This might just be the game of the day.
He needed four match points to clinch it, but that was a superb display from Fritz – the best I’ve ever seen him play – and he’s into his first major quarter-final. There, he’ll meet Nadal or Van de Zandschulp, and if he maintains that level he can beat either.
It took her a while, but Cornet did eventually win that first set against Tomljanovic, 6-4.
Kyrgios gets his Ar Jordan gear on like he’s off to the No Name Cafe in Golders Green, c. 1994. He begins by congratulating Nakashima, saying he’s a helluva player, and that he’s proud of how he steadied for set five – he’s never lost a match that’s gone all the way in SW19 and beat Nadal on his debut, which is what he was telling himself during the closing stages. But he’s played a lot of tennis lately, which is why he was in pain.
When he went on court, De Minaur was two sets up, so he was looking forward to playing him. But that’s gone now, and he’s going to have a glass of win tonight, then get ready for Garin.
Kyrgios made hard work of that – Nakashima made him work hard for that – even in the final game, forcing him to fight back from 0-30 down. But as it so often does, that rrrridiculous serve got him out of trouble and arranged him a quarter final against Cristian Garin. He’d’ve took it.
Cornet can’t serve out, broken by Tomljanovic for 5-4, while Nakashima forces Kyrgios to serve for the match.
“Back to Kyrgios,” begins Vernon Kringas. “So the argument expressed earlier by Sam is that because Kyrgios is sufficiently gifted to play elite level sport AND he has mental health issues we need to tolerate behaviour that is outside societal norms and the norms of the sport? Verbally assaulting umpires, linespeople and ball kids is not acceptable, especially when they are not allowed to respond, due to their adherence to societal norms and the rules of their employment. (Also, distracting his opponent is probably not good sportsmanship in most people’s judgments.) If he wasn’t hurting anyone, fine. But he is. No one likes to be verbally assaulted and no one should have to put up with it. All people should be treated with respect and Kyrgios doesn’t do that. He can still entertain and bring young people to the sport without verbal assaults, Appeasing people who act as if they are superior by denigrating others is a not a formula for a fair or harmonious society and I don’t think it’s best for his own mental health or his ability to flourish as a rounded human being, Being clear on limits won’t kill him and he can still play and entertain.”
I find it hard to get too in my feelings about words dispensed to officials – within reason, obviously. I wrote about that here, if anyone’s interested.
Kyrgios holds to 15 – he’s a game away – while Cornet finds herself at deuce, serving for set one.
Tomljanovic broke Cornet back, only for Cornet to seize the advantage a second time. She leads 5-3.
Does anyone know what was gained by this?
A nifty inside-out backhand return from Kyrgios cramps Nakashima’s forehand – he wants to go down the line but he’s right on the line, wiping it just wide … then Kyrgios plays a terrific point on advantage, a topspin forehand taking his opponent to the corner, opening the court for the backhand winner! He leads 4-1 in the fifth, and celebrates in suitable style.
Well done Brandon Nakashima! He finds two first serves and Kyrgios can’t get them back, so to deuce we lurch.
Kyrgios’ serve is up there with the most potent weapons in the history of our sport, and he consolidates just as quickly as you expect him to before earning two points for a double break – which, in the context of this match, feel like match points.
“ I do mostly agree with Sam Rajasingham’s points of view concerning an athlete’s mental health,” says Dean Kinsella, “and also the pressure they are expected to perform under, but one must also take into account the affect of abusive language and behaviour on the recipient, the officials and, of course, the opponent.”
I agree, and also want to be clear that no one was saying Kyrgios isn’t responsible for his behaviour. But I think we need to retain some perspective and am not sure we’re comparing like with like.
Kubler has, at last, found something, breaking Fritz back to trail 2-3. He’s doing his best to get pumped too, quickly holding to the approcal of his box.
Kyrgios returns to the match, wins two quick points with good returns giving Nakashima more than he can handle, then it’s back to sounding off at the umpire, a 2-1 final-set lead in his skyrocket.
He might’ve allowed the final game of the fourth set to leave him, but Kyrgios is putting himself about in the fifth, chasing down a forehand to glide into the corner for deuce. Then he forces Nakashima to play an extra ball, eliciting the error … so Nakashima saves break point with an ace. He’s not out of the woods yet, though, and needs to wait a moment because his opponent has words for the umpire.
Fritz is playing beautifully today, and a backhand, the final fibre of which catches the outermost fibre of the sideline, gives him 3-1 in the third. He’s almost home, and they’ve only been out 88 minutes.
You’ve got to laugh. In seconds, Kyrgios secures his hold, and on we go.