Kyrgios announces himself as Australian standard bearer

Thu Jun 26, 2014 4:17pm EDT
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By Sam Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - The support was familiar but the face was not as teenager Nick Kyrgios ushered in a new era for Australian tennis on the lush grass of Wimbledon with an epic five-set triumph against 13th seed Richard Gasquet.

The 19-year-old wildcard defended nine match points to beat the Frenchman 3-6 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5 10-8 in the second round of the tournament on Thursday, delighting the loud, proud Australian crowd on Court Two.

Emblazoned in green and gold, the unmistakable Australian tennis fans descended on the All England Club to witness the new kid on the block announce himself on the game’s biggest stage and roar him on as he held all observers captivated at the atmospheric bowl that is Wimbledon's Court Two.

"I think, for me, it definitely helps," Kyrgios, who turned professional only last year, told reporters when asked if he found the frequent chants distracting.

"I like to sort of engage with the crowd and show a lot of emotion out there. Knowing they're going to tough it out with me for that long period really gets me going.

"It makes me enjoy the match a little bit more. I think it definitely helped me today."

Australia had five representatives in the second round of the men's singles - the most since 1999 - but Kyrgios's compatriots Marinko Matosevic, Luke Saville and Bernand Tomic succumbed to seeded opponents on Wednesday and Lleyton Hewitt’s match with 15th seed Jerzy Janowicz was suspended because of rain until Friday.

The country boasts a host of male grand slam winners but it is 12 years since they could celebrate a champion, when Hewitt reigned supreme at Wimbledon.   Continued...

Nick Kyrgios of Australia reacts during his men's singles tennis match against Richard Gasquet of France at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London June 26, 2014.  REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett