Nadal-slayer Kyrgios sends Australia into a frenzy

Tue Jul 1, 2014 11:02pm EDT
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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The hype over tennis's "next big thing" Nick Kyrgios exploded in Australia on Wednesday as news of the teenager's stunning upset of 14-times grand slam champion Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon broke.

Once a global super-power in the sport, Australia has waited in vain for a new men's talent to take the mantle from an aging Lleyton Hewitt and 19-year-old Kyrgios's stylish advance to the Wimbledon quarters propelled a tidal wave of accolades from former players, Hollywood celebrities and politicians.

"Extraordinary performance @NickKyrgios. Australia couldn't be prouder of you - what a win & what an amazing attitude!" Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott tweeted.

"Aussie Aussie Aussie @NickKyrgios. Such composure and class! But hard off to @RafaelNadal ... one of the greatest of all time!" Australian actor Hugh Jackman also posted on Twitter.

A lead story on all of the major news networks and websites, Kyrgios's hopes of "keeping it real" may be undermined by the constant comparisons to other barnstorming teenagers of yesteryear.

Where American great John McEnroe saw in Kyrgios a 17-year-old Boris Becker on the rise, Australian doubles great Todd Woodbridge gleaned a young Pete Sampras.

Australia's 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash likened Kyrgios to another big-server with Greek heritage in Mark Philippoussis, the twice grand slam finalist.

The outrageous between-the-legs winner that Kyrgios finessed from the baseline to leave Nadal flatfooted was seized upon as proof the 144th-ranked Kyrgios had the confidence and the game to mix it with the world's greats.

"The 'tweener' perfectly summed up Kyrgios's approach at Wimbledon — fearless, fun and a finesse-to-firepower ratio to match it with the world's elite," News Ltd media enthused.   Continued...

Nick Kyrgios of Australia reacts to defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain in their men's singles tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London July 1, 2014.                REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth