No. 144 Nick Kyrgios upsets Rafael Nadal in fourth round of Wimbledon
LONDON -- No. 144 Nick Kyrgios upset two-time champion Rafael Nadal 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the fourth round of Wimbledon on Tuesday.
Kyrgios, a 19-year-old wild card from Australia making his main-draw debut at the grass-court major, became the first player ranked outside the top 100 to defeat a world No. 1 at a Grand Slam tournament since No. 193 Andrei Olhovskiy stunned Jim Courier in the third round of Wimbledon in 1992. Kyrgios is also the first teen to knock off a No. 1 at a Slam since a 19-year-old Nadal beat Roger Federer at the 2005 French Open.
"I was in a bit of a zone," Kyrgios told the BBC. "You have to believe you can win the match from the start, and I definitely thought that. It was a really good level [of play]."
A former junior No. 1 and the youngest player in the men's singles draw, Kyrgios pounded 37 aces (including one on match point to hold at love) and faced only three break points (saving two) in advancing to a major quarterfinal for the first time. Each player broke serve only once, but Kyrgios came through in the all-important third-set tiebreaker and showed no nerves while holding routinely time after time in the fourth set.
"The big stage, it's something I thrive on, the atmosphere, the crowd," Kyrgios said. "I just love it when at 5-3, I think it was in the fourth set, [the crowd] erupted. I just love that feeling. At that stage you just think about all the work you put in."
Before his run at the All England Club, Kyrgios had never been past the second round at a Slam in four attempts. He came close to another early loss last week, but saved nine match points to outlast No. 13 Richard Gasquet 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5, 10-8 in the second round. Against Nadal, Kyrgios lit up the stat sheet, finishing with 70 winners and 31 unforced errors, while the Spaniard had 44 winners and 18 unforced errors.
"The thing is this surface, when you have an opponent that decides to serve and to hit every ball very strong, you are in trouble," Nadal said. "I didn't play really bad. But that's the game on this surface."
Nadal, the No. 2 seed and a 14-time major champion, failed to reach the quarterfinals for the third year in a row. He won Wimbledon in 2008 and '10 and was a finalist in '06, '07 and '11, but his last three losses here have come to players ranked No. 100 or lower. Nadal dropped the first set in all four of his matches this year.
"I am satisfied the way that I played this Wimbledon," Nadal said. "It is true that my draw was not the best one. All the matches were uncomfortable against players that didn't give you the opportunity to play a lot. I fought until the end in every single match. I was able to play some good tennis on this surface. That's something that I was not able to do in the last two years."
Kyrgios (pronounced KEER-ee-ose) is the first player to make the quarterfinals in his Wimbledon debut since Florian Mayer in 2004. He will face another big server, No. 8 Milos Raonic, on Wednesday. The winner will play No. 4 Federer or No. 5 Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals. Kyrgios served as Federer's hitting partner before the French Open.