Nick Kyrgios will occupy much of Australian tennis fans’ attention when Wimbledon starts but he wants his countrymen to dream big, too.
Wimbledon title dark horse Nick Kyrgios is daring his fellow Australians to believe they, too, can cause some damage when the grasscourt grand slam begins on Monday night.
Kyrgios will have to wait until Tuesday to strike his first ball in anger against British wildcard Paul Jubb, but eight compatriots will try to reach round 2 on the opening day.
James Duckworth’s much-anticipated clash with local favourite and dual Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is the third match on the All England Club’s famed centre court.
Thanasi Kokkinakis, John Millman, wildcard Daria Saville and qualifiers Zoe Hives, Maddison Inglis, Max Purcell and Astra Sharma are also scheduled to play their first-round matches.
No.19 seed Alex de Minaur, Jordan Thompson, Alexei Popyrin, qualifier Jaimee Fourlis, 2021 quarter-finalist Ajla Tomljanovic and Kyrgios are the other Australians in the singles draws.
Kyrgios withdrew from last week’s Mallorca Championships with an abdominal issue but made back-to-back semi-finals in Stuttgart and Halle before that to send a strong reminder of his grasscourt prowess.
But the 2014 Wimbledon quarter-finalist, who could lock horns with Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round, feels he isn’t the only threat among Australia’s men’s crew.
“You look at Thanasi, Thompson, Millman, de Minaur, Duckworth – they’re all capable of playing at top-50 level,” Kyrgios said.
“I’ve grown up and seen it. I almost believe in them more than they believe in themselves at times.
“I practised with ‘Thommo’ yesterday. We had such a high-level practice. He’s playing, I think, I believe, like top-20, top-25 tennis on the grass.
“I want to see them kind of break through. Like, if I had to play one of them – I played ‘Thommo’ here (in 2019) – and I wasn’t happy about it. We had a five-set match.
“I know what they’re capable of. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them had a breakthrough week. They’ve just got to believe. If they had a bit more belief, who knows how far they’d go.”
Duckworth, like former world No.1 Murray, who beat Kyrgios to reach the Stuttgart final, has endured a difficult few years with injury, including each undergoing major hip surgery.
Murray won their only two head-to-head meetings, in Brisbane in 2019 and at the 2018 US Open.
“I’m sure we’ll have a good match,” Murray said.
“He’s a guy who’s had quite a few operations (and) quite a few injury issues over the years; got up to his career-high ranking last year and finished last year extremely well.
“He’s a proper hard worker.”
AUSTRALIANS IN ACTION ON MONDAY
James Duckworth v Andy Murray (Great Britain)
Q-Zoe Hives v 5-Maria Sakkari (Greece)
WC-Daria Saville v Viktoriya Tomova (Bulgaria)
Q-Maddison Inglis v Dalma Galfi (Hungary)
Q-Max Purcell v Adrian Mannarino (France)
John Millman v 25-Miomir Kecmanovic (Serbia)
Q-Astra Sharma v Tatjana Maria (Germany)
Thanasi Kokkinakis v Kamil Majchrzak (Poland)