Get to know Nick Kyrgios, who's into the Wimbledon quarterfinals
LONDON -- Nick Kyrgios is having quite the Wimbledon debut. The 19-year-old Australian wildcard stunned No. 1 Rafael Nadal, handing the 14-time Grand Slam champion a 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-3 loss in the fourth round to advance to his first-ever Slam quarterfinals. He wowed the crowd in his Centre Court debut with incredible power on his serve and some pretty sweet shot-making as well. Kyrgios became the first teenager to beat an ATP No. 1 at a major since Nadal beat Roger Federer at the 2005 French Open.
In the second round of Wimbledon, Kyrgios was a point away from exiting the tournament. He was down two sets to love, and came back and saved nine patch points to stun No. 13 seed Richard Gasquet 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5, 10-8 in the second round. Ranked No. 144, Kyrgios will make his top 100 debut on Monday to become the youngest man in the ATP top 100. Kyrgios earned his wildcard after winning the grass-court ATP Challenger in Nottingham as a qualifier.
You may remember Kyrgios from the Australian Open (his home Grand Slam), where he beat Benjamin Becker in the first round, and then took a two-set lead on Benoit Paire in the second round, only to succumb to cramps and lose in five sets. Nonetheless, Kyrgios' aggressive play enamored the crowd that night at Margaret Court Arena.
Curios about Kyrgios? Here's what you should know about the Australian phenom.
He's part of an exciting group of young Australians: Everyone already knows about 21-year-old Bernard Tomic, but Kyrgios is right behind him, as is Kyrgios' best friend 18-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis. These are some tall, rangy youngsters. Kyrgios is the shortest of the three at 6-foot-4.
His serve is huge: He topped out at 133 mph against Nadal, and has now hit 119 aces through four matches. His firepower isn't limited to just his serve either. He hit 59 winners in his first-round match and 86 across five sets against Gasquet. Facing off against Nadal's defense, the Aussie fired 70 winners, including 37 aces. He's a shotmaker at heart, and he has no problem going for the unthinkable if it will get the crowd going. Like the casual front-side tweener he hit against Nadal on Tuesday. Or this stunner against Paire in Melbourne:
He's a former junior No. 1: He won the 2013 Australian Open junior title in 2013, and earned the No. 1 ranking that same month. He's also a two-time Wimbledon junior doubles champion, winning in 2012 and 2013. He turned pro last year.
This is is Wimbledon debut: Kyrgios has played the main draw of just five Slams and this is his first Wimbledon. He became the first man to reach the quarterfinals in their Wimbledon debut since Florian Mayer did it in 2004. He'll be the youngest man in the top 100 when the new rankings debut on Monday. He's also the youngest and lowest-ranked player since Tomic at Wimbledon in 2011 to make the quarterfinals of a Slam.
Brad Gilbert thinks he looks like Colin Kaepernick: We here at SI Tennis are split on this one. You make the call.
He earned his first tour-level match win in January: With his ranking outside the top 100, Kyrgios does most of his work in the Challenger ranks, which are tennis' version of the minor leagues. But it speaks volumes that he's always been game for the big stage, and has the physicality to compete in a best-of five format at the majors. His victory at the Australian Open over Becker was his first tour-level win of the season and now he's into the quarterfinals of a Slam.
He's a force on the ATP Challenger circuit: He won back-to-back Challenger events on clay this spring, and then he won his third Challenger title at Nottingham this month. That win made Andy Murray sit up and take notice.
Another challenger win for @nickkyrgios this time on grass.. also won challengers on hard and clay! Next big aussie star— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) June 14, 2014
We will be seeing a lot of him very shortly on the main tour.— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) June 14, 2014
He has his own Twitter hashtag: #NKrising. Which I always misread as "N Krising".
Roger Federer flew him out to Switzerland to hit with him before the French Open: That's quite the vote of confidence for a player ranked outside the top 100.
He's got swagger: Despite the fact that his tweets may read as humble and he claims doesn't know what "swagger" is, but there's an air about Kyrgios. The way he carries himself around the court shows you that he believes he belongs. And he should believe. He made his Grand Slam debut last year as an 18-year-old, beating Radek Stepanek on clay at the French Open. Against Nadal he played fearless tennis and after breaking serve in the middle of the fourth set, he proceeded to hold his serve easily to win the match.
“There’s obviously signs that I can do something special in the sport," he said. I’ve just got to keep my head down.”
Drake does not pump him up before matches: Kyrgios made that mistake before his third round match against Vesely and he came out completely flat and lost the first set. "Didn't do the job for me.," he said. Luckily for him he got it out of his system and won the next three sets.
His mom didn't think he could beat Nadal: ""'I saw an interview with her saying he was too good," Kyrgios said after the win, "so that made me a bit angry and that helped." Kyrgios comes from a close-knit family -- his mother is Malaysian and his father is Greek -- and he's the youngest of three. Australian press reports he's splitting with his coach after Wimbledon to return to his hometown of Canberra and be closer to his family. His mother Nill said she wouldn't be watching her son's match against Nadal because it stresses her out. "I'll just watch him warm up and then quietly excuse myself," she said.
He almost chose basketball over tennis: He was a basketball standout but finally had to choose between his two loves when he was 14 years old. He finally chose tennis at the urging of his family. “I love to play sports a lot so it was an easy transition to fully concentrate on tennis," he said. "It’s a choice I’m not regretting.”