When it comes to giant slayers, the don’t come more gutsy than Canberra teenager Nick Kyrgios, the Wimbledon wildcard who knocked out the 13th seed, Frenchman Richard Gasquet, in a epic five set battle overnight.
To win, Kyrgios, 19 – the youngest player in the men’s competition and at his first Wimbledon main draw – saved nine match points, staging a remarkable comeback from two sets down to win 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 7-5, 10-8.
His three hours and 53-minutes victory takes him into a grand slam third round for the first time and shows he learnt from his five-set loss to Beniot Paire at the Australian Open earlier this year – a game that signalled his potential as a future champion. It was only his fifth appearance in a grand slam event.
He’s the only Australian through to the third round (Lleyton Hewitt’s match against Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz was halted by rain as he trailed 5-7 4-all), after Bernard Tomic was dispatched by Tomas Berdych.
Kyrgios will meet Jiri Vesely, another up-and-comer who produced his own upset by taking out Gael Monfils.
The teenager showed both courage and the wild abandon of youth in his early groundstrokes, giving his opponent the early lead. This youth also led to a moment of ill-discipline, when his temper overwhelmed and he smashed one of the balls out of the arena. He seemed to tire, as he did in Australia, but forced himself back into the match with Hewitt-like fight.
Don’t doubt his willingness to back himself under pressure. Kyrgios saved nine match points in four separate games in the final set. It was a nerve-wracking period.
The first one was a break point saved with a forehand winner in the 10th game when he was 0-40 down. Another came when a double-fault was called on his otherwise powerful serve.
He challenged. The ball was in. Three more match points saved. He faced breaks in his next two games too, but each time responded with bravery and class.
His aces, all 21 of them, helped. And he was right when he said he played “unbelievable tennis”.
The end was swift. Kyrgios broke Gasquet’s serve in the 17th game in a love game, and staying on that roll to take the final 10 points of the match, ending with an ace.
Gasquet sees his potential, predicting he’ll win a Grand Slam event and crack a top-five ranking.
Kyrigios’ ambition is simple: “My goal is to become the No.1 player in the world,” he said.
His win should see Kyrgios crack the top 100 and overtaking Tomic, who looks set to slide out of the top 100 for the first time since 2011.
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