London – Australian wildcard Nick Kyrgios saved an astonishing nine match points in a epic encounter with Richard Gasquet before downing the 13th seed in a five-set thriller at Wimbledon on Thursday.
The youngest man left in the draw at 19 years and 70 days old came back from two sets down to beat the Frenchman 3-6, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-5, 10-8 in a second round encounter that lasted just under four hours.
Kyrgios, on a career-high world ranking of 144, is tipped by defending champion Andy Murray as a star of the future and with his gritty performance showed exactly why seasoned pros think he is one to watch.
“I'm so happy right now, I don't even know what I'm talking about,” the Wimbledon debutant said after the biggest win of his career.
He was given a rousing reception by the 4,000-strong crowd on Court Two.
Kyrgios grew into the match and there was little to separate the two once the second set was under way.
The youngster then clawed back the two sets before the dramatic final set in which, Gasquet, serving first, had the advantage.
Kyrgios held off a string of match points for the 2007 Wimbledon semi-finalist, then broke and took the only match point of his own with an ace.
“It's definitely the biggest win of my career so far, especially coming from two sets to love down. Mixed emotions right now, I don't really know what to do,” Kyrgios said.
“I'm just stoked and happy to get through again. Well done to Richard as well, it was an unbelievable match.
“I knew the match points were there for him and I just went through my routine on my serve. That's my main weapon, that's what got me here.
“I just took my time and I just fended him off. As soon as I got my opportunity I took it.
“I was very nervous going out there. I got broken straight off the bat but I knew that if I played my game I still had a chance.”
The highest number of match points known to have been saved by a winning singles player at Wimbledon is 11, by West Germany's Helga Schultze in 1966.
The International Tennis Federation could find only two other instances of a player saving nine match points to win a Grand Slam match in the Open Era (since 1968).
Chanda Rubin of the United States achieved the feat at the 1995
French Open, while compatriot Vince Spadea did likewise in 2004 at the same tournament.
Kyrgios faces Jiri Vesely in the third round. The Czech wildcard beat French 24th seed Gael Monfils in the round of 64.
“He's got a monster of a serve, he's a great player and he's young as well. Monfils is no easy match and for him to win in five sets is a great effort,” Kyrgios said.
“But I'm not thinking about that right now. I'm just going to do everything I can to recover: ice bath, stretch, massage, all that stuff, and go out there again.”
Kyrgios received his Wimbledon wildcard after winning the Nottingham Challenger-circuit grasscourt tournament as a qualifier, and has more than rewarded the All England Club's faith.
For the first time since 1999, seven Australians advanced past the opening round at the All England Club.
However, Kyrgios and veteran Lleyton Hewitt are the only ones left standing. Hewitt plays Polish 15th seed Jerzy Janowicz in the second round later on Thursday. – Sapa-AFP