Twenty year old Australian and world number 28 Nick Kyrgios is one of the rising stars of men’s tennis. He stunned Wimbledon last year beating the then world number one Rafa Nadal, reaching the quarter finals at SW19. I was there that day and did a quick sketch, left it at the players’ entrance, not thinking it would be returned, though it was (and signed).
This year’s grass court season is well underway and I met Nick after his practice session at the Queen’s Club last Saturday… As you would expect, he was very popular, not least with the kids and their sharpie ruining large tennis balls.
I gave him my pen to sign this sketch, when one spectator remarked, “oh, it looks like Pavarotti signing!”. NOT helpful, unless of course Nick’s a big Pavarotti fan. Either way, he liked it and signed.
The overnight sensation of this year’s Wimbledon has been 19 year old Nick Kyrgios, the 1.93m Australian teenager with a Greek father and a Malaysian mother. Making his debut at SW19, he was playing courtesy of a wild card entry and ranked 144 in the world. Very few thought he had any chance of beating world number 1, Rafa Nadal on centre court in the fourth round. Four sets later he produced the shock of the tournament, blitzing the two time champion 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.
He put his motivation down to his mother’s prediction that he would lose. “My mum said Rafa was too good for me and it made me a bit angry.”
In the second round he saved nine match points to beat 13th seed Richard Gasquet, but fell to Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic in the quarters. However, from a ranking of 838 last season, he is guaranteed to read the mid 60s. Going into the quarter finals, Nick was leading the ace standing with 113. A staggering 37 of those were bashed past Nadal. He is donating £5 for every ace served at Wimbledon to the Rally for Bally fund – set up in memory of former British No 1 Elena Baltacha.
His cheeky ‘tweener’ – a beteen the legs stoke that sent the ball out of Nadal’s reach, went viral on YouTube, amassing more than 500,000 views. I was actually at The Championsoips on ‘the’ day and watched events unfold from ‘the hill’, amongst a very vocal group of Aussie supporters and manged to get this sketch to him the next day, which he signed and returned along with a clipping from The Times reporting his sensational victory.