• Wimbledon

Kyrgios stuns Nadal on Centre Court

Alex Perry
July 1, 2014
Nick Kyrgios joins Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione as the only Australians to beat Rafael Nadal © Getty Images

Remember the name: Nick Kyrgios.

The 19-year-old wildcard, playing at Wimbledon for the first time ever, put on a blistering display for the Centre Court crowd as he downed world No.1 and second seed Rafael Nadal 7-6(5) 5-7 7-6(5) 6-3.

The last teenager to beat a top-ranked player in the world at a slam? Nadal - against Roger Federer on his French Open debut in 2005. This was a performance of similar stature.

There were no excuses for Nadal, who for the third year in a row failed to reach the quarter-finals at the All England Club. He was simply outplayed on the most famous rectangle of grass in tennis.

Forget nerves. Kyrgios came flying out the blocks with the kind of youthful exuberance we've rarely seen since the early Nadal days. The Spaniard had lost the opening set in each of his first three matches this year, so his nervy start was understandable. He clung on and forced the tie-break, but there was simply no stopping Kyrgios, who raced into a 4-0 lead before seeing it out to five.

The second set was a similar tale: Kyrgios unstoppable with the ball in his hands and Nadal digging in. So confident was Kyrgios, he even pulled off a between-the-legs winner. But then his first wobble. A couple of silly errors while serving to stay in the set at 5-6 allowed Nadal to lead in a game on Kyrgios' serve for the first time. He took his opportunity with aplomb and the atmosphere in Centre Court shifted as if everyone knew what was coming.

Rafael Nadal could not find an answer to big-hitting Nick Kyrgios © Getty Images

It didn't.

Kyrgios refused to let the occasion get to him and immediately applied the pressure. Nadal had no way back into the game and, by the time the third set tie-break came about, he almost looked resigned to the fact he simply could not find a way past the youngster standing opposite him.

And when the break came in the fourth game of the fourth set, it was all but over. Nadal was staring at the kind of defeat that he himself had inflicted on so many over the years.

"I was struggling a little bit on return until I got that break in the fourth set," said Kyrgios, who celebrated his victory with a jig around the Centre Court turf. "I served at a really good level today all the way through the match, so I was really happy.

"You've got to believe that you can win the match from the start and I definitely thought that. I'm playing some unbelievable tennis on the grass and he hit some extraordinary shots. That's what he's always going to bring.

"I didn't know what to do [when I won]. There were so many emotions, I didn't know what to do - whether to drop to the ground, throw my racquet. I turned to everyone who has been supporting me over the last … my whole life really and sacrificed so much to get me to where I am now.

"I don't really know what [the dance at the end] was. Me and a couple of the boys do that sort of thing so I thought I'd chuck it in there too.

"My mum said before the match that she thought he [Nadal] was too good - so that actually made me a bit angry the night that I saw that."

Kyrgios now faces Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals after the eighth seed saw off Kei Nishikori, seeded 10th, 4-6 6-1 7-6(4) 6-3.

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