LONDON (Reuters) - When Norlaila Kyrgios checks her mobile phone for messages on Wednesday morning in Canberra there will be a “smiley-face text” waiting for her.
That text from 19-year-old son Nick in London isn’t a simple greeting that means ‘hi mum’ or ‘miss you mum’. What it really means is “huh, so much for you thinking I wasn’t good enough to beat Rafa Nadal?”.
The offspring she had so little faith in sent Wimbledon spinning on its axis on Tuesday when he sensationally toppled Nadal 7-6 (5) 5-7 7-6 (5) 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals on his debut appearance at the All England Club.
If Nadal wanted to blame anyone for the way Kyrgios came out all guns blazing, firing down 37 scorching aces and 70 sizzling winners, he needs to look no further than the Australian wildcard’s mother.
“I saw in an interview that my mum thought Rafa was too good for me so that made me a little angry,” world number 144 Kyrgios told reporters.
That anger fired up Kyrgios so much that from the moment he swaggered on to Center Court bopping his head to the music blaring out of his pink headphones, he looked like a man possessed.
So what if Kyrgios was playing a rival who:
- Was ranked number one in the world
- Was chasing a 15th grand slam title
- Was on a 14-match winning streak against Australians
- Had not lost to a player ranked as low as him since 2006
- Owned a record nine French Open titles
Kyrgios did not care a jot about what one of the all-time greats of the sport had achieved.
All the Australian tyro cared about was that he possessed the belief and the talent to prolong “the best week of my life” by turfing Nadal out of the grasscourt major.
Sandwiched between his opening ace of the contest and the final ace on match point were two hours 58 minutes of heart-pumping action.
When it was all over at 7.09pm local time, it was the first time Kyrgios ran out of ideas.
“I didn’t know what to do ... there were just so many emotions. I didn’t know whether to drop to the ground, throw my racket,” he said.
Looking stunned, he simply turned to his teary-eyed family in the players’ box before producing some dance moves that he dubbed “the juicy wiggle”.
Pulling off “the biggest win of my career” might be enough for some but the offspring of a Malaysian mother and Greek father has his eye on bigger prizes.
“I want to be the number one player in the world,” said teenager Kyrgios whose hashtag of choice on his Twitter account is #NKrising.
Since December 2013:
- His ranking has rocketed from 828 to the top 70
- He has became the first player ranked outside the top 100 to beat a world number one since 1992
- He made the Wimbledon quarter-finals on his debut appearance, blasting a tournament-leading 113 aces
- He is guaranteed to pick up at least 226,000 pounds ($384,600) for reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
Kyrgios’ fearless display on Tuesday left many gushing.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a while. We keep saying ‘who is the next guy?’, and I think we’ve found that guy right now,” said former three-times champion John McEnroe.
“He’s acting to me like he could win this tournament.”
It definitely is #NKrising.
($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds)
Editing by Tony Jimenez