Kyrgios “Overwhelmed With Happiness” Ahead Of Nadal Clash
Wimbledon, Great Britain
by Josh Meiseles|
Nick Kyrgios could not contain his emotions.
As the Australian fired a service winner on his first match point against fellow rising star Jiri Vesely, he collapsed to the Court 17 grass, hands gripping his face in disbelief of what had just transpired.
The culmination of a dream opening week at his first Wimbledon, the emotions flowed as the 19-year-old wild card from Canberra battled past Vesely 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 for his first Round-of-16 berth at a Grand Slam.
Just 16 months ago, Kyrgios was sitting at World No. 576 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. With his third-round triumph at the All England Club, he cements himself in the Top 100 for the first time.
"I'm overwhelmed with happiness," Kyrgios said. “It's a great milestone. I will keep aiming higher and higher. Right now I won't put a number on it.”
Competing in just his fifth tour-level tournament, Kyrgios becomes the first wild card to advance to the fourth round at Wimbledon since Juan Carlos Ferrero did so in 2009. His reward? A date with World No. 1 and two-time champion Rafael Nadal.
After completing a stunning comeback from two sets down against Richard Gasquet in the second round, saving nine match points for his first victory over a Top 20 opponent, Kyrgios says anything is possible. Moreover, he believes he can topple Nadal.
“I never thought that I would be seeing Nadal in the Wimbledon fourth round at 19,” added Kyrgios. “I thought it would take years and years of work to finally have an opportunity like that. To think that it's going to happen in about a day is daunting, but so exciting, as well.
“Of course I have nothing to lose out there. Anything is possible. I'm just going to go out there and play my game. I think that's definitely enough to be competitive.”
Kyrgios identified his serve as one of the keys to the match and hopes the Aussie fanatics will continue to provide him motivation and energy as they have been all week. With a Grand Slam quarter-final berth on the line, in the biggest match of his young career, he will seek to hand Nadal his first defeat to a teenager since Novak Djokovic upended the Spaniard at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Miami in 2007.
“I thrive on those opportunities to play in front of a big crowd. I love it. I will be interacting a bit with them," Kyrgios said of the fans. "It's going to be really exciting. The crowds here are great. You know the fanatics are going to be going absolutely berserk. That will be a lot of fun.
“You know, I think my serve is going to be a massive, massive part of that match. I think I have been serving really well, so I think that's going to be the main thing.”
A three-time ATP Challenger Tour titlist in 2014, perhaps the biggest improvement in the Aussie's game in recent months has been his physical endurance. After succumbing to cramps in a five-set battle with Benoit Paire in the second round of the Australian Open earlier in the year, and suffering a subsequent shoulder injury weeks later, Kyrgios has spent eight hours and 21 minutes on court thus far at Wimbledon—and has lived to talk about it.
"I'm still young, so I'm still getting used to the best-of-five sets and trying to back it up," Kyrgios admitted. "Right now I'm actually okay. I'm physically a little bit sore, but I think that's normal. I'm doing all the right things to keep backing it up, and mentally I'm actually fine. I'm just really happy."
Kyrgios’s clash with Nadal will be contested on Tuesday.