Nick Kyrgios believes he has proved he can ‘compete with the best’ after knocking then world number one Rafael Nadal out in the fourth round of Wimbledon.
The 19-year-old Australian, who has trained at Totteridge Tennis Club, shot to national prominence after knocking out Nadal – twice a winner and three times a runner-up in SW19.
And Kyrgios, who was a wild card entry into the 2014 championships at the All England Club, feels he has proved a point after reaching the last eight of the competition at the first attempt.
“My greatest feeling is that I have proven I can compete with the best,” explained the Canberra-born right hander. “The publicity has gone mad, especially here in Australia.”
Kyrgios, who only turned professional in 2013, added: “I got home to Canberra on Friday and when I saw the reaction at the airport it felt real.
“It’s an amazing feeling as no teenager has ever beaten a number one before,” he enthused.
A 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 victory over Nadal made the world sit up and take notice of the debutant, who had previously beaten world number 13 and 2007 Wimbledon semi-finalist Richard Gasquet in the second round.
“The Gasquet match was something so strange that I didn’t think it could happen,” admitted Kyrgios, who dispatched the 28-year-old Frenchman in five sets, 3-6, 6-7 (7-4), 6-4, 7-5, 10-8.
“I went out to play Nadal with a game plan and surprisingly felt relaxed on court. I think it was one of those where I had nothing to lose and just went for it.”
As if victory over Nadal was not impressive enough, the current world number 66 was responsible for one of the most memorable moments of the championships, returning a Nadal forehand through his legs with an opportunistic shot.
“I played a similar shot in the Australian Open too. Nothing goes through your head it’s just spontaneous,” revealed the Australian teenager.
In 2013, Kyrgios won the boys’ singles and doubles event at Wimbledon but he was fortunate to even reach the main event this year.
“[My aim was] just to qualify. I lost in the first round of the qualifying at the Nottingham Challenger and felt very down,” Kyrgios admitted. “However, week two went well and I not only qualified but won the event.
“The Wimbledon club called me to say I had [been given] a wild card during the presentation.”
Having earned the right to play on the biggest stage of all, Kyrgios certainly took his chance but after the elation of knocking out Nadal to reach the quarter-finals, the youngster came unstuck against Canadian Milos Raonic, going down 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 4-6, 6-7 (4-7).
Reflecting on defeat to number eight seed Raonic, Kyrgios said: “I was physically very tired, it’s a shame I didn’t get the extra day rest.
“In saying that, Milos played well and deserved the win.”
As a result of his success as Wimbledon, Kyrgios has climbed into the ATP top 100 for the first time, described as ‘fantastic’, and is now taking a break at home before deciding what event to start the US hard court season with.
Kyrgios is managed by Clinton Coleman, who is club coach at Totteridge Tennis Club and director of tennis advancement and Global Tennis Connections.