Nick Kyrgios is imploring his Australian support cast to dream big and seize the moment when Wimbledon finally returns with full crowds on Monday.
The All England Club will be at capacity for the first time since pre-COVID in 2019 as eight Australians open their campaigns on day one of the championships.
A former quarter-finalist in slick grass-court touch this summer, Kyrgios shapes as Australia’s only genuine title threat in the absence of retired reigning women’s champion Ash Barty.
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But the talisman is convinced Australia’s eight other players in the men’s draw, including 19th seed Alex de Minaur, are also capable of making runs.
While Kyrgios, de Minaur, Jordan Thompson, Alexei Popyrin and Jason Kubler don’t start until Tuesday, Thanasi Kokkinakis, John Millman, James Duckworth and qualifier Max Purcell are all in action on Monday.
“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 will never have a better chance to showcase his capabilities than when he squares off with Britain’s two-time Wimbledon champion and former world No.1 Andy Murray in Monday’s third match on centre court.
Duckworth is a player Murray can relate to, with both requiring delicate hip surgery to continue their careers.
“I’m sure we’ll have a good match,” Murray said.
“He’s a guy that’s had quite a few operations. He’s had 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.”
Kokkinakis plays Pole Kamil Majchrzak, almost certainly for the chance to take on three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in the second round.
Millman meets Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, while Purcell makes his Wimbledon singles debut against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Three Australian women’s qualifiers also take to the court on Monday, plus wildcard Daria Saville against Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova.
Zoe Hives will be front and centre on No.2 Court against fifth seed Maria Sakkari, Astra Sharma plays German Tatjana Maria and fellow West Australian qualifier faces Dalma Galfi of Hungary.
AUSSIES IN ACTION AT WIMBLEDON ON MONDAY (PREFIX DENOTES SEEDING):
Women’s singles, first round
Zoe Hives v 5-Maria Sakkari (GRE)
Daria Saville v Viktoriya Tomova (BUL)
Astra Sharma v Tatjana Maria (GER)
Maddison Inglis v Dalma Galfi (HUN)
Men’s singles, first round
Thanasi Kokkinakis v Kamil Majchrzak (POL)
John Millman v Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB)
James Duckworth v Andy Murray (GBR)
Max Purcell v Adrian Mannarino (FRA)