LONDON Nick Kyrgios intends to watch the replays of his exceptional Wimbledon debut over and over, for what he has just done shows the Australian 19-year-old he has what is needed to carry him further at future grand slams.
Asked if he could return in a few years and win the Wimbledon title, Kyrgios said: “Yeah, I think I'm capable of doing something like that. I'm not going to put so much pressure on myself. I'm just going to do the work, do everything right. If my game continues to develop, I think, yeah, I do have a shot.’’
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Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic defeated wildcard and tournament surprise package Australian Nick Kyrgios to progress to his first grand slam semi final on Wednesday.
The day after his monumental effort to beat world No.1 Rafael Nadal on centre court, Kyrgios was eliminated in four sets by a rival who plays a little like he does. On Wednesday, eighth-seeded Milos Raonic, 23, was fresher, stronger and more damaging on serve. The Canadian hit 39 aces among 74 winners to achieve major semi-final status for the first time; Kyrgios must be content with his wildly unexpected place among the last eight.
“Tells me there's a lot of room for improvement,’’ said the weary wildcard, who lost 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) in his first quarter-final. “But at the same time, there's something special I have that can make it deep into grand slams. I'm doing it at 19. I think in the future there's going to be something there that of course I can go a bit further."
The Nadal match, he said, had “a big impact” on his slightly sluggish, but persistent, performance. “I was struggling physically about halfway through the second set. I was feeling sore in a couple places,’’ he said. “But I'm not going to take any credit away from him. He served unbelievable… I just couldn’t do anything out there.’’
When Kyrgios awoke from a slightly restless night, the magnitude of his achievement had sunk in. There had been messages from Socceroo Tim Cahill and, he thinks, the Prime Minister. It was extraordinary, unforgettable, inspiring.
‘“That's something that no one can take away from me,'' Kyrgios said. "I'm always going to have that now. I drew a lot of confidence out of that. I thought I played a strong first set today. I just couldn't maintain that level. What he brought today was something special, I thought.’’
Raonic, he said, was also clearly superior physically, and he the teenager has vowed to contiinue working on his body, as well as hig game. “I'm just going to get better in many areas. My serve can improve, forehand, backhand, volleys, transitioning. I can name millions of things that need to get improved.’’
And, now, the world will be watching. An unknown when he strolled around the All England Club two weeks ago at the start of the tournament, the emerging Australian had become a celebrity by the time he left.
Kyrgios’ next tournament is scheduled to be on grass next week in Newport, Rhode Island, and there will then be a trip home to Canberra and a training bloc in Melbourne. He has a coaching vacancy to fill, apparently, while still reluctant to discuss the future of Tennis Australia incumbent Simon Rea, but also the opportunities that come with a place in the top 70 in the world.
“That was my goal, to be top 100 at the end of the year,'' he said. "It gives me a chance to have a really good schedule, play some tour events, and don't worry about futures and challengers so much anymore. It will be really good, tour events, Grand Slams, Davis Cup. Give me a bit more clarity on the future.’’
Kyrgios hopes to bring some of his young Australian friends with him, including Thanasi Kokkinakis - whom he thinks may even be the more talented member of the duo known as the Special Ks.
“I think it's big. When I'm back in Australia now and we're all training together I think it's definitely going to be a motivation for them. In practice usually they beat me. That's going to give them confidence to see if I'm doing this well, they can do it as well. I think it's a massive step.’’
Raonic needs no convincing, having been ranked close to 400 at the same age Kyrgios is now.
"I don't know how I would have reacted to it at 19. I wasn't in the situation and I wasn't at that level that I could have put myself in the situation. But he's done very, very well. It's in a lot of ways inspirational for a lot of people to see."
Former Australian Davis Cup stalwart Wally Masur said the traditional marriage of talent and hard work would be the right formula for Kyrgios from here, as it had been for for Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Nadal, et al.
“I just think he’s just got to focus on what’s important, and there’s probably a few trappings that come with success at a young age: probably money, attention, managers, media, there’s probably a lot of other things, and I think he’s got to keep that really clean and have a good team around him.’’
Fellow Aussie tennis great Todd Woodbridge said Krygios’ performances would convince others what could be done - while his own progress is watched with great interest.
“There's going to be so much attention so he's going to really have to work at not overdoing it and staying grounded and realising ‘this is the breakthrough. you haven’t made it, you’ve still got years of this ahead of you to be a seasoned pro’,'' Woodbridge said.
“I think he knows that, it's just going to be what happens when he gets a little bit tired and fatigued. This fortnight has been amazing and he's got to pat himself on the back and enjoy it.
“There's a message to the other Australian players - he's showing them what can be done with the right work and the right attitude.
"He's given our game at home a huge boost, it's exactly what we needed and they're all good mates. That's going to be benefit everybody.’’