In an unprecedented display of confidence and self-belief, Aussie wildcard Nick Kyrgios picked up the biggest win of his young career when he toppled two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal Tuesday afternoon on Centre Court. Kyrgios will be awarded with another tough match-up against fellow rising talent Milos Raonic.
Fans and pundits alike had dismissed Kyrgios as a entertaining, yet mild challenge for the reigning French Open champion, but the Aussie must not have been aware that the odds were stacked against him and therefore played like he belonged on the grand stage. Kyrgios struck a total of 70 winners and 37 aces in the contest, and thoroughly dominated on serve to give the Spaniard all he could handle.
“I think I was in a bit of a zone out there,” Kyrgios told BBC television. “It hasn’t sunk in what just played out out there. I played extraordinary tennis. I was struggling a bit on return, but I worked my way into it. I served at a really good level and I’m really happy.
“You’ve got to believe you can win the match from the start and I did. I’m playing unbelievable tennis on the grass. He hit extraordinary shots, but he’s always going to bring that.”
Kyrgios was making his Wimbledon main draw debut this year and has surpassed all expectations. He had only won one main draw match on the ATP Tour this season but was coming off a Challengers title win in Nottingham. According to ATPWorldTour.com, Kyrgios is the first player outside the Top 100 to beat the World No. 1 since Andrei Olhovsky defeated Jim Courier in the 1996 Roland Garros first round. He is the first teenager to defeat a World No. 1 since Nadal beat Roger Federer in the 2005 Roland Garros semi-finals.
“That’s the biggest win of my career obviously, and that’s something I’m never going to forget,” he said. “I’m going to draw so much confidence out of that no matter where I play now. To have that under my belt, it’s massive.”
Milos Raonic is also celebrating a big achievement, as he is through to his first ever Wimbledon quarter-final. It was not easy, as he was forced to rally back from a set down to defeat Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori 4-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-3. Like his upcoming opponent, Raonic’s win was decided by his service dominance, and he will certainly need something similar when he goes up against the confident Kyrgios.
“Serving well [will be key],” said Raonic. “I’ve been able to do that so far. It’s what’s going to put the pressure on my opponent. It’s what’s going to give me a bit of freedom on the return games. After that, the most important thing is going to be the attitude, the mental approach. I want to do much better than I did in Paris. I feel like I’m ready to do so.”
The two competitors recently met at the French Open in a contest that Raonic won in straight sets. This is unlikely to be the same sort of match, as Kyrgios seems to be extraordinarily confident on grass, and will look to extract revenge this time around.
Prediction: Nick Kyrgios in Five Sets