LONDON // Nick Kyrgios believes he can claim another famous victory when the rising Australian star faces French Open champion Stan Wawrinka in the Queen’s Club first round.
Kyrgios has emerged as one of the most promising talents on the ATP Tour over the last 12 months and he has another opportunity to underline his vast potential by defeating Swiss second seed Wawrinka at the Wimbledon warm-up event, which starts on Monday in west London.
Wawrinka is fresh from his surprise French Open final victory over world No 1 Novak Djokovic but, true to his ultra-confident demeanour, Kyrgios sees no reason why he can't add Wawrinka to the growing list of top players who have fallen to the flamboyant Canberra-born youngster.
The 20-year-old, ranked 25th in the world, has the big serve and powerful groundstrokes to thrive on grass courts, as he showed in a stunning victory over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year.
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He built on that breakthrough success by reaching the Australian Open quarter-finals earlier this year and also defeated Roger Federer in the Madrid Masters.
“It’s unbelievable I think, to have an opportunity to play Wawrinka after he won the French Open. It’s really exciting,” Kyrgios said.
“I didn’t think that anyone was going to get close to Djokovic. Stan just played unbelievably. It was extraordinary tennis.
“He hits the ball massive, he doesn’t really play with any fear so I can see some similarities to me, but I think our games are a little bit different.
“I’m feeling really confident but we’ll see how it goes, I’m just going to go out there, play my game, have fun and if I lose, I lose, if I win, I win.”
Kyrgios described himself as “just an ordinary teenager” during last year’s Wimbledon run and that youthful exuberance, which has sometimes got under the skin of opponents, shows no signs of abating.
“Every time I come here it’s hard not to think about what happened last year, but I’d like to think I’ve done a lot of good things since then as well which also boost my confidence and just give me more motivation to keep training hard as well,” Kyrgios said.
“Sometimes I get recognised now, but I don’t know if it’s for tennis or the hair to be honest!
“I like to have fun. I bought a scooter today, I’ve been telling everyone; I’m pretty excited about that.
“It’s the sort of thing you’d be flying around on when you are 10, but it’s been fun.”
While Kyrgios refuses to show any deference to the world’s top players on court, he still has a healthy respect for those who have spent so long at the highest level, especially a compatriot like Lleyton Hewitt.
Four-time Queen’s champion Hewitt is embarking on his final grass-court campaign before retiring after next year’s Australian Open and Kyrgios saluted him for helping the next generation of Australian stars.
“He’s left an unbelievable legacy, he’s one of the greatest competitors of all time,” Kyrgios said.
“He’s gone through injuries where normal people would have shut it down, and he’s come back.
“I thought last year for him to win Brisbane and Newport, to win two titles at that age and to continue to play at that level is extraordinary.
“He’s a great leader for us as well in Davis Cup, when he trains he’s always 110 per cent, always pushing us and making sure we’re doing all the right things.
“He’s massive for the development of all the younger guys.”
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