MADRID (Reuters) - Roger Federer became the latest member of the “Big Four” to get sucked up by a whirlwind called Nick Kyrgios as the Australian tyro sent the Swiss top seed spinning out of the Madrid Masters in the second round on Wednesday.
Ten months after the then 144th-ranked Kyrgios overwhelmed Rafa Nadal in the Wimbledon fourth round with a fearless brand of tennis, the Australian showed that he is also a force to be reckoned with on clay.
Now ranked 35th, Kyrgios ended Federer’s hopes of winning a fourth Madrid trophy with a heart-pumping 6-7(2) 7-6(5) 7-6 (12) victory.
“I think he’s the greatest of all time... I knew before the match that I would have to play one of the greatest matches I have ever played, I wasn’t intimidated at all,” the remarkably composed 20-year-old said courtside following his victory in two hours 37 minutes.
“I have a lot of respect for him. It was just another tennis match, it was a chance to go out there and enjoy yourself and I happened to get the win.
As Kyrgios celebrated, Federer suffered his earliest exit in 11 visits to Madrid.
On the day he had hoped to celebrate the first birthday of his twin boys Lenny and Leo with a routine victory, the world number two was first rankled when Kyrgios broke him in the opening game of the match.
The irritation went up a few notches when the second set slipped away under a barrage of aces and crunching baseline winners.
Facing an opponent who was just eight when he won the first of his record 17 grand slam titles in 2003, Federer wasted two match points in the tension-filled third set tiebreak.
Kyrgios was the one holding his arms aloft in victory after he wrapped up the contest on his sixth match point when Federer slammed a forehand wide.
Nadal’s season has been full of lows, the Spaniard having won only one title in 2015, but he avoided any drama with a 6-4 6-3 win over American Steve Johnson.
He was joined in the third round by Tomas Berdych and 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov but U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic followed Federer out of the exit door after a 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 6-3 defeat by Fernando Verdasco.
Writing by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ed Osmond