Battle-hardened and professional on court, mellow and serene off it - for one day at least - Nick Kyrgios reckons it's victory or bust at Wimbledon now.
Australia's combustible sporting maverick looked and sounded a contented soul after a mature, tactically-savvy performance on Monday enabled him to overcome a shoulder niggle and a flat day at the office to make his first grand slam quarter-final for seven years.
Yet asked if his hard-forged 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 victory over rising American Brandon Nakashima persuaded him a first major semi-final was at hand, Kyrgios made it clear he's now aiming higher.
"That's not my goal. I was telling people back home that I wanted to go for the title this year round," he reminded reporters.
With the tough but eminently beatable Chilean world No.43 Cristian Garin awaiting him in Wednesday's quarters, and a potential reunion with his old foe Rafael Nadal looming in the semis, Kyrgios is not hiding how he really fancies his chances.
And he swears that sticks and stones aren't about to derail him.
Talking of the vehement criticism he's come in for over his behaviour in the Stefanos Tsitsipas match, which cost him another $US4000 ($A5800) fine from the All England Club and a verbal mauling from the likes of Pat Cash, he just shrugged: "It's so funny.
"I joke around with my team about it so much. It's hilarious. I almost just wake up and read things, and I just laugh," he said.
"I have a massive chip on my shoulder. Like I sit here now in quarter-finals Wimbledon again, and I just know there's so many people that are so upset."
But there are a lot, including the cheering centre court crowd, who couldn't be happier to see the great entertainer at the sharp end of the tournament again for the first time since he was a teenage debutant terrorising Rafael Nadal.
They recognised that, after all the sound and fury of the Tsitsipas clash, Kyrgios had battled through with barely a peep of controversy - but a whole heap of pure heart.
The shoulder injury, which cropped up on Sunday after the Tsitsipas match, became problematic again at the end of the first set against Nakashima, a big-serving, confident 20-year-old who gave him all the trouble he could handle.
After Kyrgios had been treated three times on court and Nakashima had fought back to the verge of levelling, Kyrgios reckoned he deliberately let the American win a careless final game in the fourth set to "rope-a-dope" him into losing his rhythm.
It worked beautifully as Kyrgios then took control of the final stanza to set up the inviting Garin tie.
And how he enjoyed himself.
"That's probably the first time in my career where I wasn't playing well, I was able to just say to myself, 'Wow, look how far I've come'. I really just smiled to myself," he mused.
"To sit here, quarter-finals of Wimbledon, feeling good, feeling composed, feeling mature. I'm extremely blessed.
"I feel like I'm just comfortable in my own skin," he said, pondering the glass of wine he was going to enjoy in the evening.
And he only briefly rose to the bait when a reporter was winding him up about why he'd broken the all-white dress code by wearing his red Jordans.
"Because," he responded, "I do what I want."
With Kyrgios, it was ever thus.
Australian Associated Press
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