Taylor Fritz can consider himself pretty unlucky.
The American No.11 seed pushed Rafael Nadal to his limit in their Wimbledon quarter final, fighting the Spanish legend all the way before a gut-wrenching loss in a fifth-set tiebreak.
But even more unfortunate is seeing your opponent edge you out – and then look on in horror as he’s unable to take his place in the semi final that you were so close to being in.
Nadal’s exit from his scheduled blockbuster clash with Aussie Nick Kyrgios on Friday night (WA time) has raised the question of whether Fritz should have been allowed to take Nadal’s place as a ‘lucky loser’ injury replacement.
The New York Times veteran tennis writer Christopher Clarey pushed for the rule change, making the case for a Kyrgios v Fritz showdown.
“It happens so rarely, but I still think it’s worth exploring,” he argued.
“When a player withdraws this late in a Grand Slam or before a major tour final, the beaten player should be able to take the slot.
“In this case Fritz would play Kyrgios as a ‘lucky loser’.
“The show must go on.”
Former champion turned veteran analyst Pam Shriver also raised the question, writing on Twitter: “I feel for Taylor Fritz. Should tennis re-examine the lucky loser rule’s scope?”
But Fritz said he was fine with the outcome, responding to an Instagram comment to say he had not earned his place.
“Nah not looking for handouts, if I couldn’t beat him then I don’t deserve to be in semis… simple as that,” Fritz wrote.
It comes as Kyrgios bids to join Australian legends Norman Brookes, Gerald Patterson, Jack Crawford, Frank Sedgman, Lew Hoad, Ashley Cooper, Neale Fraser, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, John Newcombe, Pat Cash and Lleyton Hewitt on the men’s singles honour board.
If he becomes Australia’s first men’s champion since Hewitt in 2002, Kyrgios will also provide a gloriously unexpected and colourful postscript to Ash Barty’s unforgettable women’s triumph 12 months ago.
Even Kyrgios figured his “ship had sailed” before the enigmatic star – for so long condemned as a wasted talent – at last reached his first maiden grand slam semi-final on Wednesday with victory over Chile’s Cristian Garin.
But the prodigiously gifted entertainer from Canberra said after moving into the last four that he was intent – and finally felt ready – to deliver on his rich potential.
“I just feel like I’m more mature,” Kyrgios said.
“Earlier in my career if I made a third, fourth or quarter-finals, I’d be on my phone a lot.
“I would be engaging online a lot, would be keen to go out to dinner and explore or just do things to kind of, not necessarily soak in the achievement, but just not conservatively just go back to my house at Wimbledon with my team, put my feet up, get treatment and eat, get good rest.
“I think everyone has the same goal in my team. That’s why it’s working. We all know what we’ve come here to do.
“I made it pretty known to them that I wanted to go pretty deep here and possibly even raise the trophy. I’ve made that pretty known.
“I feel like it’s literally just been as simple as get some rest. Like, ’Nick, stay in the house’.
“That’s not always been the easiest thing for me over my career.”
It was only a few months ago that Kyrgios opened up publicly about his “suicidal thoughts” and wanting to at least quit tennis altogether.
’Obsessed’ with new girlfriend Costeen Hatzi, he’s now blissfully content, even with a court date hanging over his head.
Barely 24 hours before his first grand slam quarter-final in seven and a half years on Wednesday, Kyrgios was summonsed to face a Canberra court over an assault allegation involving ex-girlfriend Chiara Passari.
Keen to air his side of the story but advised by lawyers not to talk while the matter remains before the court, Kyrgios is ploughing ahead in pursuit of Wimbledon glory, saying after years of anxiety he is now comfortable in his own skin.
“I feel as if, just with anything these days, people are so afraid to just open up on how they’re feeling,” Kyrgios said.
“For me it was mental health obviously. I personally didn’t think that Nick Kyrgios was able to feel how I was feeling years ago, obviously with the dark thoughts, the self-harm.
“If I wasn’t Nick Kyrgios, I would have opened up about it a lot sooner.
“I feel like if people anonymously told you how they felt, they would do it a lot. People would open up a lot more.
“I mean, I wanted to be the ambassador for people to just be themselves no matter who you are, be comfortable in your own skin, believe in yourself.
“I don’t want people to hide anymore. It’s okay to be what colour you are, whatever. Just be yourself.”
On Sunday, Nick Kyrgios being himself could suddenly be Australia’s 16th Wimbledon men’s singles champion.