Nick Kyrgios likes to think of himself as a kind of big brother to 18-year-old Omar Jasika, recalling sleepovers at each other's homes during training blocks in Canberra and Melbourne, then early wake-ups before heading to the courts. "We used to cause trouble and everything," Kyrgios admits, cheerfully. Now there's a surprise.
A less-likely scenario was the one that unfolded at Melbourne Park on Monday night, as Kyrgios was dispatching Pablo Carreno Busta in three brisk sets on Hisense Arena. Out on court seven, Jasika was playing the match of his life, on his Australian Open debut, to upset 74th-ranked Ilya Marchenko in four sets, urged on by a chaotic amalgamation of the Fanatics and the personal t-shirted cheer squad known as Omar's Army.
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By Tuesday morning, after a difficult night's sleep, the teenager's feet had not still found their way completely back to earth. "Not quite, sort of, a little bit," a slightly weary Jasika told Fairfax Media. "I'm still a bit on cloud nine and trying to figure out what happened, but, yeah, it was a good feeling last night. I will never forget that night. Ever. All my friends and family came out, and just to see their faces, everyone was so happy. It was a good feeling."
An even better one would be success in Wednesday's second round follow-up against 2008 runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - the ninth seed and a Jasika childhood hero, along with the usual suspects named Roger and Rafa. The Australian was still at primary school in Melbourne's outer east when Tsonga played Novak Djokovic on the last Sunday night eight years ago, but sat up to watch, and loved it.
"I remember I was like 'wow, I wish I could play this guy one day', you know, and actually it's gonna happen," Jasika said. "Playing my idol, what else can I ask for? It's probably a few kids' dreams to play against their idol, and it's gonna be good. I'm just going to play my game, I'm just gonna go in believing in myself, that's the best confidence you can have."
Indeed, the left-hander said he felt from the first point that he could beat Marchenko, and wears his motto, "one chance" engraved on a silver necklet. His best friend prefers the words "one life" on the version that swings from a matching chain, but the general sentiment is shared. "So last night I was pointing to his chain and he was pointing to mine," said Jasika. "One chance, yeah, I like to live like that. You only get I one chance in your life."
Having completed a rare 2014 US Open junior title double, barely a year after an attitude-related suspension from the national academy program, the quietly likeable Jasika is making the most of his. A year younger than Thanasi Kokkinakis, and - at a lighter 180-centimetres, a different style of player - he is emerging from the slipstream of his mates the K's, even as they, and others of their talented generation, remain a tight-knit group.
"Seeing all those guys and the way they practise and the way they sort of break through is what everyone wants. Nick talks to me about it sometimes, Thanasi, they all push me through. It's a good feeling, having them on the sideline. We're all close, we're all good friends."
Having invited himself to the Jasika media conference before hosting his own - "I think he was a bit bored last night, Nick," smiled Jasika - Kyrgios was genuinely pleased for his younger friend, and spoke positively, and from personal experience, of the potential impact of such an early breakthrough at grand slam level.
"To see (Jasika) get a win at the grand slam level is pretty special," said Kyrgios, the 29th seed, who will meet experienced claycourter Pablo Cuevas in round two. "It's massive. I got a grand slam win under my belt really early in my career as well. You think about that a lot, just to know you can pull out a performance like that in front of your home crowd. That's not easy for him. He's been struggling the last couple weeks. For him to pull out a win like that against a tough competitor in the heat shows the resilience he has. I think it shows great potential."
So, onto the next event, an even bigger one, scheduled for Margaret Court Arena. A more famous and overt showman, Kyrgios is not concerned about how his former partner in mischief-making will handle the occasion. This is serious now, but it also helps if it's fun. "He's got absolutely nothing to lose out there. I think Omar goes out there and just enjoys himself, enjoys the experience. For him it's a massive experience, learning curve. I think he's more than capable of causing an upset, as well."