WHY THE BIG GUNS FEAR AUSSIE NICK
He is 20 years old, armed with passion and extremely dangerous. Now the big guns of tennis are sure of one thing: they won’t want to play Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon – or anywhere else, for that matter.
Conqueror of Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year, the brilliant Australian recently took down the great Roger Federer in Madrid. And although he just ran out of steam against the improving John Isner, that doesn’t change the way Kyrgios is now perceived by the sport’s biggest names.
The problem for the likes of Nadal and Federer is that the Canberra Cannon doesn’t pay them too much respect and he doesn’t know when he is beaten.
Take that scoreline at Wimbledon last year against Nadal. To win 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 against a slugger like Rafa tells us all we need to know about the young Aussie’s fighting spirit and sheer nerve.
The scoreline against a determined Federer the other day reveals a similar story. To triumph 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (14-12) shows that when a cool cutting edge is required on the big points against the living legends, Kyrgios won’t be denied- even during a marathon breaker.
Federer said later that he had a real problem trying to break Nick’s serve. Ironically, Kyrgios had similar difficulty on Thursday against Isner. But that won’t be any comfort to Federer, any more than the admirable Australian’s defeat to Milos Raonic in the Wimbledon quarter-final last year softened the blow for Nadal.
When it comes to the big occasion, Kyrgios is your man – especially on the road. Nick thrilled Melbourne and all of Australia when he reached his second Slam quarter-final at the start of this year, though perhaps the pressure of expectation got to him against Andy Murray.
There will be no such expectation at Wimbledon – just a collective anxiety among the best players and the sincere hope that they don’t get drawn against Mr Unpredictable. When that explosive Kyrgios serve is on song and he plays with the unbridled passion that has become his trademark, there is no more entertaining or rousing sight in tennis.
That’s why neutral crowds love him and back him against even the world’s most popular players, Federer and Nadal. You can bet he won’t be short of support from home when it comes to Wimbledon, either. With a forthcoming Ashes series to enjoy in England, Australian supporters will flock to London to watch a dream summer of sport. Just as the Aussie cricketers are likely to put the Poms to the sword, so Kyrgios is tipped to make at least one big tennis name squirm at the All England Club.
Five sets could suit super-fit Nick, whose athleticism is awesome when he is injury-free. Back and ankle injuries temporarily interrupted the rise of Kyrgios earlier this year. But now he is coming back to his best at just the right time.
Don’t the big guns know it! That’s why they’re starting to fear Aussie Nick. And that’s why Wimbledon can’t wait to welcome Kyrgios and his growing legion of fans.