A three-minute span on centre court highlighted the conundrum the Wimbledon crowd is facing ahead of the men’s final.
It’s happening – Nick Kyrgios will meet Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final on Sunday night in a match-up between two of the most controversial figures in recent Australian sporting history.
Djokovic booked his place with a four-set win against Brit Cameron Norrie overnight Friday, sending a warning to Kyrgios about the challenge he presents with an emphatic finish to the semi-final.
The Serb was out of sorts early for the second match in a row but this time only allowed his opponent a one-set lead after fighting back from 2-0 down against Jannik Sinner in the quarters.
It was one-way traffic in the final three sets as Djokovic sprinted into the finale – his 32nd major final and eighth at Wimbledon – with a 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 win.
It extended his current winning streak on Wimbledon’s centre court to an astonishing 38 matches and sets up what Kyrgios described as a “mouth-watering” final.
“One thing is for sure there’s going to be a lot of fireworks emotionally from both players,” Djokovic said.
A clash between two of tennis’ most volatile talents appears to have left the gentile Wimbledon crowd in a confused position.
Sections of the audience booed Djokovic after he won match point and made a kissing gesture towards a noisy fan who had been bothering him.
“I’m not sure he needed to do that, but that’s who he is,” John McEnroe said in commentary.
But then they booed again – even louder – when Kyrgios was mentioned in Djokovic’s on-court interview.
McEnroe believed the Serb would begin the match a slight favourite with the crowd.
“I’d think they’d be slightly in Djokovic’s favour – they like their history here,” he said.
“But who knows. It certainly won’t be like Federer-Djokovic where it’s 95 per cent in Federer’s favour.”
It comes after the UK’s Telegraph newspaper carried a story on Thursday labelling Kyrgios’ progression to the final as “Wimbledon’s worst nightmare”.
“If Wimbledon were to select the first player in the Open era to receive a walkover into the final, you doubt Kyrgios would be uppermost in their minds,” chief sports writer Oliver Brown wrote.
“For here is a man who has weaved mayhem all fortnight, gratuitously abusing line judges with no power to defend themselves, while delivering a display of such supreme malevolence against Stefanos Tsitsipas that the Greek branded him a “bully” with an “evil side”. Truly, he makes John McEnroe look like a King’s College choirmaster …
“The very thought of him accepting the golden Challenge Cup from the Duchess of Cambridge is enough to make denizens of the members’ balcony gag on their strawberries.”
Kyrgios was made aware of the article by a reporter during his press conference but has had enough experience dealing with negative press not to let it ruffle his feathers.
“I didn’t read it, I didn’t see it,” he said. “Looks, it’s hard. It’s something I have to deal with. That’s the world we live in, I guess. I’m in a Wimbledon final and I know deep down everything I’ve been through and everything I’ve worked for. So I’m just going to enjoy the ride. If that’s what they want to write, that’s what they want to write. I can control what I do. I’m just going to go out and enjoy the moment. Since I was born only eight people have won this title. Eight people. So I’m just going to give it my best shot.”
Kyrgios has won both of his previous matches against the Serbian star – both straight sets victories on hard courts in 2017.
McEnroe said the matches were “absolutely” relevant. “Kyrgios knows he’s got the game to bother Djokovic – he just does,” he said.
Kyrgios spoke to the media in a pre-final press conference on Friday night and revealed the “weird” Instagram messages he received from Djokovic.
He also lashed out at former Aussie tennis greats he says have a “sick obsession” with running him down.
Originally published as Confused Wimbledon crowd boos Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios