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Normal kid proves he is a little out of the ordinary

NICK Kyrgios is just a normal kid from Canberra.

Nick Kyrgios celebrates on Centre Court after his surprise victory against Raphael Nadal. Picture: PA
Nick Kyrgios celebrates on Centre Court after his surprise victory against Raphael Nadal. Picture: PA

Or so he thinks. And in some ways he is right: the 19-year-old took his Xbox with him from the other side of the world and was thinking of jetting back home when he lost to John-Patrick Smith in the first round of a Nottingham challenger some three weeks ago.

But what he achieved on Centre Court yesterday was utterly extraordinary. As the World No.144 bounded about the most famous lawn in world tennis like the basketball player he could have been, then performed an impromptu dance already being styled the 'juicy wiggle', in joyous celebration at his 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over Rafa Nadal, this normal kid sent shockwaves reverberating around the tennis world.

This was a man who had won just four tour level matches all year, three of them at Wimbledon, yet he had just become the lowest-ranked player to beat Nadal since World No.690 Joachim Johansson in Stockholm in 2006. Lower, that is, than both Steve Darcis and Lukas Rosol.

Moreover, with the recent trend being for players to emerge later on in their twenties, Kyrgios had also just become first teenager to defeat a World No.1 at a grand slam since Nadal achieved the feat in 2005 at Roland Garros, aged 19 years and two days.

The Australian's victory owed much to one of the bigger serving days in the history of the championships, with the 37 aces he sent down - one to start, and one to finish - celebrated with particular fervour at the Royal Mardsen hospital and the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis. It is no ordinary act to pledge £5 for 'Rally for Bally' from every ace that you serve in the tournament, a tally which has now passed the £500 mark. He also delighted the Centre Court crowd when he struck a winner from between his legs in the second set.

"You know, I'm just a normal kid, a normal 19-year-old," said Kyrgios. "It's just extraordinary. I'd never think after that match in Nottingham that I'd be in the quarters of Wimbledon three weeks later. I was actually thinking about flying home after that match."

Kyrgios' claims for normality are undermined both by the magnificence of the wild card's play and the fact he was a talented junior player who won the 2013 Australian Open juniors and the Wimbledon boys doubles on two separate occasions. Born of Greek immigrant parents, he went off into the night talking of sending a smiley face text to his mother Nill, who had "angered him" by writing off his chances in a newspaper column.

Alongside former Wimbledon junior champion, Luke Saville, and Thanasi Kokkinakis, he forms part of a fearsome new wave of Aussie tennis. Kyrgios has also become the youngest player to reach the quarter-finals since another compatriot, the lost talent which is Bernard Tomic.

"You look at the Australian culture back when Lleyton [Hewitt] was a champion and Pat Rafter was a champion," said Kyrgios. "They were such fearless competitors. I want to start bringing that back. I want to be No.1 in the world. That's my motivation. But it's all happened so quickly."

Like most normal teenagers, Kyrgios is au fait with modern technologies. Having won some new Twitter followers when he joked that he and Nadal had 14 grand slam titles, the Australian broke his stated 25,000 target when he broke the Spaniard's serve in the fourth set. His progress this year hasn't been easy: he had to save nine match points in his match against Richard Gasquet in the second round.

The new star in the firmament of world tennis has other quirks, too. Kyrgios wears a lucky chain with religious fervour, while even in the throes of his greatest victory he is considering parting company with his Aussie coach Simon Rea. Having moved to No.65 in the world rankings on the strength of this performance, he is rather glad to contemplate life without the Challenger Tour.

Today, on Court No.1, he faces Milos Raonic, the Montenegrin-Canadian with an equally big serve. "There's going to be a lot of walking from side to side from his serve, and there's going to be a lot of winners in the match," he said.

While that is unfolding, a battle for Swiss supremacy will take place on Centre Court. Stan Wawrinka came through a bad-tempered match with Feliciano Lopez by a 7-6 (5), 7-6 (7) scoreline, while Roger Federer made short work of Tommy Robredo.

Federer has won 13 of the pair's 15 meetings, Wawrinka took the last one, in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters. One thing is for sure: there will be nothing normal about the day's tennis.

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