Nick Kyrgios made it clear he isn’t best pleased with commentators who take a different view of his underarm serve compared to that of Andy Murray at Wimbledon. The Australian came through a tough match to win his opening Wimbledon 2022 match over Britain’s Paul Jubb.
A packed house on court 3 witnessed a typical mix of the bizarre and the brilliant from the Australian en route to a tough 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-3 victory in just over three hours. But during his post-match press conference, the world number 40 took a swipe at those who criticised him for using an underarm serve, but seemed to praise Murray for deploying the same tactic during his 2022 Wimbledon bow against James Duckworth last night.
Kyrgios, who to a degree has normalised the use of the underarm serve, said: “I remember the first time I did it was against Nadal and Acapluco and the commentators said ‘Oh what’s he done here? It’s so disrespectful, why would you do that’?’ And then now it’s like ‘Oh Andy Murray so smart.’ Everyone does it now and it’s like they’re a genius. I’m glad that people are realising there’s another way to win the point but I think it’s just hilarious.”
Murray on the other hand, defended his use of the shot and explained his thought process behind using it following his victory. During the third set, with the score at one set all, the former world number one had broken his opponent and was looking to consolidate it.
When 15-0 up in the game, Murray caught everyone by surprise by utilising an underarm serve.
It nearly didn’t pay off as Duckworth was able to scramble forwards and make the return, but was caught out with a lob and before the Brit went on to hold his serve and win the third set. “He changed his return position. That’s why I did it,” Murray said when explaining his reason for using the underarm serve.
“He was standing very close to return. He was struggling a little bit on the first-serve return, so he stepped probably two meters further back. As soon as I saw him step further back, I threw the underarm serve in. I personally have no issue with players using it. I never have.
“Certainly more and more players have started returning from further, further behind the baseline now to give themselves an advantage to return. The underarm serve is a way of saying, If you’re going to step back there, then I’m going to possibly throw that in.”
He added: “I don’t know why people have ever found it potentially disrespectful or… I don’t know. I’ve never understood that. It’s a legitimate way of serving. If they stand four or five meters behind the baseline, then why would you not do that to try to bring them forward if they’re not comfortable returning there? Tactically it’s a smart play.” Earlier today Kyrgios suffered an early setback when he lost the opening set to British wildcard Jubb. Kyrgios also lashed out a line judge in frustration at one point, referring to her as “a snitch” who ‘had no fans.’
However, Kyrgios fired back and prevailed in an epic five-setter and was ultimately forced to play the maximum after a valiant effort from world No. 219 Jubb. His reward is a second-round fixture against either Filip Krajinovic or Jiri Lehecka, hoping to reach the tournament’s third stage for the third time in the past five years.