Nick Kyrgios is the youngest player in the Wimbledon men’s draw, but the 19-year-old Australian completed a superb coming of age as he saved nine match points to defeat No.13 seed Richard Gasquet 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5, 10-8 in the second round.
“My first ever two sets to love down, coming back and winning. It's an amazing feeling,” said Kyrgios, after the three hour and 53 minute victory, which saw him advance to the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time. “(You’re) so proud of yourself the way you hung in and fought it out.
“I played some unbelievable tennis today. He was coming up with some really good shots as well ... there's plenty of opportunities he could have taken. I came out on top, I'm really happy.”
Most pleasing was his composure under pressure and the emergence of a fighting spirit that’s proving as potent a weapon as his powerful serve. Contesting only his fifth Grand Slam main draw – having earned this Wimbledon opportunity with the wildcard that accompanied victory in the Nottingham Challenger event – it was understandably a nervous beginning for the world No.144, who was unable to gain an early edge against the crafty and vastly more experienced Gasquet.
It was only in the 10th game of the second set that Kyrgios earned his first break point. He secured the break but was unable to consolidate and after losing the set in a tie-break, it seemed wrestling control from the Frenchman would require a massive fight.
But as it transpired, the big-spirited Australian was up for the battle. “At that stage it seemed like a massive hill to climb. I stuck in there. I just fought and I gave myself the opportunity to win the match,” he said.
The next three sets would be career defining for the teenager, who says his development as an athlete has been rapid since he grabbed attention with his five-set second round Australian Open exit in January. “I think I'm getting better every day,” Kyrgios said. “I think maybe just a bit more experience as well managing my emotions out there.”
Certainly that was the case as he seized momentum in the third and fourth sets. With his trademark serve starting to fire and some high risk tennis finally paying off, Kyrgios required only one service break in each to send the match into a fifth set.
It was then that a rapidly-growing supporter base would see the best of the much-improved Australian. With Gasquet serving first in the set, there was always going to be pressure on Kyrgios, but he responded in the most stunning way when he fended off his first break point – and thus match point – with a forehand winner in the 10th game.
Ultimately there would be nine match points to save for the Australian, one of them when he challenged an apparent double fault in the 12th game. The serve was in by the narrowest of margins, and it perhaps added to confidence when it was most required.
While Kyrgios was appearing to tire, it was Gasquet who would finally capitulate when he failed to win a point on his own service game in the 17th game of that final set. Kyrgios was unstoppable, breaking to love as he won the final 10 points and sealed victory with his 21st ace.
With those aces boosted by a handy 86 winners (10 more than Gasquet) it’s clear that there are a number of physical advantages that will help Kyrgios on his quest for bigger achievements – and there are many of them on the wish list.
Gasquet predicts Grand Slam success and a top-five ranking but the teenager is already aiming higher than that. “My goal is to become the No.1 player in the world,” he declared.
The next step will be a third round meeting with Jiri Vesely, who grabbed his own headlines with an upset of Gael Monfils. “He had a massive win today, winning in five sets. He's also young. He's on the rise. He's got a really aggressive game, big serve. Big hitter as well,” said Kyrgios of his 20-year-old opponent.
It will be yet another big occasion in a young career but Kyrgios is relishing the opportunity. “I just enjoy having a big crowd, trying to entertain them a bit. I think you just got to refuse to play bad out there for the crowd. I think you got to find your best tennis.”
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."View all