LONDON (Reuters) - This time there was no
escape for world No.1 Rafael Nadal.
For the fourth match in a row at this year's Wimbledon he got his
fingers burned when losing the first set - only this time he was
engulfed by player with dynamite in his strings.
How the tournament organizers must be slapping themselves on the
back for handing Australian upstart Nick Kyrgios a wildcard.
On Tuesday the 19-year-old world number 144 took his dream Wimbledon
debut to dizzy new heights with a spellbinding display on Center
Court to outplay the twice champion using a barrage of aces and
crunching baseline winners.
His 7-6(5) 5-7 7-6(5) 6-3 win was the first by a player ranked
outside the top 100 over a world No.1 at a grand slam since Jim
Courier lost to Andrei Olhovsky in 1992.
Olhovsky never did much else but Kyrgios's victory, sealed with a
37th ace, felt as though it could be a seminal moment in the
evolution of men's tennis - a warning shot to the "big-four".
Yes, Lukas Rosol and Steve Darcis, also ranked outside the world's
top 100, ended Nadal's previous two Wimbledon campaigns, but they
played probably the matches of their careers to do it.
Kyrgios's career is just beginning and the way he overwhelmed Nadal
with a fearless brand of tennis, who knows where his first Wimbledon
adventure could end up?
"He is acting to me like he can win the whole tournament,"
three-times Wimbledon champion John McEnroe said after witnessing a
match that will enter Wimbledon folklore.
"The last guy that I saw like that was Boris Becker, a teenager who
just believed that he would beat everything that was put in his
While magnanimous in defeat, Nadal offered a few words of caution.
"It's easier when you are arriving. Everything is new, nothing to
lose. Everything is good. We'll see if he's able to improve and play
at a very high level for a long period of time, but I wish him all
Nadal won the French Open aged 19 and has gone on to capture 13 more
grand slam titles.
Kyrgios described himself as "just a normal 19-year-old kid" on
Tuesday but said some pre-match comments from his mother Norlaila
that Nadal would be a match too far for her son had fired him up for
the biggest day of his life.
"I was actually reading a comment that she thought Rafa was too good
for me," he said. "It actually made me a bit angry.
"I'll just text her a smiley face!"
Kyrgios's exploits topped what had already been a dramatic eighth
day of the championships including defeat for Maria Sharapova and
the sight of distressed world No.1 Serena Williams serving a game of
double faults in a third-round doubles match with sister Venus,
before retiring with an illness.
Roger Federer's vintage Wimbledon continued, though, as he glided
past Spain's Tommy Robredo 6-1 6-4 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals
of the grasscourt slam for a 12th time.
The 32-year-old, yet to drop a set in four rounds, dazzled the Court
One crowd with his artistry, making the game look ludicrously easy
against the 22nd best player in the world.
"I feel physically in tip top shape," Federer, who now faces an
all-Swiss quarter-final against Davis Cup team mate Stanislas
Wawrinka, told reporters, although his mood may have been soured
later as Switzerland lost to Argentina at the World Cup.
While Federer is facing an unusually busy schedule at Wimbledon
because of weather interruptions, Wawrinka will be playing a third
match in three days on Wednesday.
Australian Open champion Wawrinka beat Feliciano Lopez 7-6(5) 7-6(7)
6-3 without any major alarms although the match ended with the
players in a heated argument at the net.
Big-serving Milos Raonic celebrated Canada Day by becoming the first
man from his country to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in the
professional era, beating Japan's 10th seed Kei Nishikori 4-6 6-1
Wimbledon's second Tuesday is usually reserved for the women's
quarter-finals, but with the schedulers playing catch-up after this
year's rain delays, only two took place.
Czechs dominated the bottom half of the women's draw where Lucie
Safarova's 6-3 6-1 defeat of Ekaterina Makarova set up a semi-final
clash with compatriot and 2011 champion Petra Kvitova who defeated
unseeded Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-1 7-5.
With a Czech finalist guaranteed, the top half of the draw took a
further twist when Russian firebrand Sharapova, despite saving six
match points, had her hopes of celebrating the 10th anniversary of
her sole Wimbledon triumph with a sequel, rudely ended by dogged
German Angelique Kerber.
The screaming fifth seed threw everything in her formidable arsenal
Kerber's way, but after recovering from a wasteful opening set
tiebreak to level, she went down 7-6(4) 4-6 6-4.
Though not the victory the French Open champion craved, she showed
true champions' spirit to haul back a 5-2 deficit in a thrilling
finale to a match she might have gone on to win had she taken a
point to level at 5-5.
Instead, despite blowing a 0-40 advantage in the final
nerve-jangling game Kerber sealed victory when Sharapova flailed a
backhand over the baseline.
"I was a little bit nervous because I was thinking, you know, if
it's now 5-5, everything starts from zero," Kerber, who faces
20-year-old rising star Eugenie Bouchard in the quarter-final on
A day after Bouchard became the first Canadian to reach a Wimbledon
quarter-final in the professional era, compatriot Milos Raonic
underlined the country's upward curve with a four-set victory over
Japan's 10th seed Kei Nishikori.
Not a bad way to celebrate Canada Day, although Raonic will not be
partying with Kyrgios to face on Wednesday.
Last year's runner-up Sabine Lisicki made sure there would be two
Germans in the women's quarters when she overcame a shoulder injury
to beat Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3 3-6 6-4.
She will face Romania's "Miss Consistency" Simona Halep after the
third seed raced to a 6-3 6-0 win over Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas.
Halep reached the French Open final earlier this month and began the
year with a quarter-final run in Australia.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Lovell)