Paul Jubb braced for Nick Kyrgios’ bag of tricks at Wimbledon

·4 min read

Paul Jubb is happy to play the straight man to Nick Kyrgios’ entertainer in their first-round Wimbledon clash.

British number eight Jubb is making his second appearance as a wild card three years after his debut and landed the most eye-catching draw of the home hopes.

Kyrgios is now closer to 30 than 20 but remains an enigma capable of the sublime and the ridiculous, often in the same match.

“I’ve just got to play the match I would normally play, how I would go about any other match and let him do his thing,” said Jubb.

The 22-year-old will be prepared for through-the-legs shots and possibly an underarm serve or two but has no objection to Kyrgios’ antics.

“He is a showman,” said Jubb. “People watch him so I wouldn’t say it is a bad thing. He brings a lot of excitement.

“I’ve never been against an underarm serve. It’s not against the rules. If someone’s stood so far back, do it. I’ve never understood why people complain about that kind of thing. So, if he does it to me, and it works out, I’ll probably laugh.”

Paul Jubb is ready to expect the unexpected from Nick Kyrgios
Paul Jubb is ready to expect the unexpected from Nick Kyrgios (Steven Paston/PA)

Jubb’s wild card in 2019 was presented as something of a fairytale as he made the journey from Hull council estate to the All England Club via a prestigious US college title.

Jubb, though, was never happy simply to make up the numbers and, although he performed creditably in a four-set loss to Joao Sousa, he has greater ambitions for his second attempt.

“I would like to think I can improve from last time, or just perform a little bit better,” said Jubb, now ranked 219.

“I wasn’t really happy with the way I performed in 2019. But experience is the thing you can’t buy, you’ve got to go through it a few times. I’d like to think that’s going to be a help with going out there on Tuesday.”

Jubb has already beaten two top-100 players on grass this month, including Kyrgios’ countryman James Duckworth in qualifying at Queen’s Club.

“I feel like I can put myself in his shoes very well,” said Kyrgios. “I was once that kid that got a wild card at the Australian Open. Felt really good just to be around, soak it all in, the media, the fans, everything, the hype.

“I know how he’s going to be feeling. He’s going to go out there and he’s going to just play freely, nothing to lose.

“Being in that position, I loved it. I was an underdog every time I walked out there. I had no pressure. So I know it’s going to be a dangerous match.

“I know I’ve just got to ride the waves emotionally out there because the crowd is obviously going to be behind the local. I’m used to wearing that kind of black hat, the villain-type role. I’m going to embrace it.”

While Kyrgios plays the joker, he is deadly serious about his ability to do well at Wimbledon and this season has seen him perform consistently strongly – albeit sparingly.

He skipped the entire clay-court season to stay at home in Australia and believes this approach can bring out the best in him for the rest of his career,

“I don’t want to be the type of player that’s going to play all year long,” said the 27-year-old. “I think living in Australia, it’s so hard to find the balance between spending time with your family, friends, having that kind of normal lifestyle.

Nick Kyrgios has been in good form on grass
Nick Kyrgios has been in good form on grass (Friso Gentsch/dpa via AP)

“I don’t want to be spending seven, eight months on the road any more. Rankings and all that, it’s not something I chase. I’ve played top-10 players in the world this year and made them look pretty ordinary.

“I know where my game’s at. I know if I’m feeling confident, I’m playing well, I’m able to just light it up kind of whenever I want.”

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