Kyrgios saves 9 match points to beat Gasquet
LONDON (AP) — The youngest player in the men’s draw at Wimbledon showed the composure of a veteran.
Nick Kyrgios, a 19-year-old wild-card entry from Australia, rallied from two sets down and saved nine match points Thursday to overcome 13th-seeded Richard Gasquet 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5, 10-8 and reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time.
“It was an unbelievable match out there,” Kyrgios said. “My first ever two sets love down, coming back and winning. It’s an amazing feeling. So proud of yourself the way you hung in and fought it out.”
Kyrgios, who has been singled out as a future star by defending champion Andy Murray, served out the match at love after a hard-fought contest that lasted nearly four hours.
“I think it’s a massive stepping stone for me to finally reach the third round of a Grand Slam,” Kyrgios said. “Especially to come back from two sets to love down, it can be a building bridge for more things to come. It is my biggest career win, I think.”
Gasquet is the highest-ranked player that Kyrgios has beaten. The 144th-ranked Australian, born to a Greek father and Malaysian mother, had never won a match against a Top 20 player but his quick progress has not gone unnoticed at the top of the game.
Before the French Open, Kyrgios was invited to training sessions by 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer. Gasquet said Krygios has the weapons to win a major in the future.
“My goal is to become the No. 1 player in the world,” Kyrgios said. “I think it’s just a long journey. There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs. I’ve just got to do all the right things, work hard, keep having great effort. Hopefully if you marry that up with your ability on the court, anything is possible.”
Against Gasquet, Kyrgios’ abilities were undeniable. Despite a nervous start, he hit 86 winners — including 21 aces — to produce a stunning comeback that left Gasquet full of praise.
“He is a very talented player and today he was a beast,” Gasquet said.
Saving nine match points to win a Grand Slam match is quite rare. The International Tennis Federation said there are no definitive records on match points saved, but found two other cases in the Open era, both times at the French Open — Chanda Rubin did it in 1995 and Vince Spadea nine years later.
Kyrgios erased three match points in a row in the 10th game of the fifth set and saved one in the 12th game when he successfully challenged an apparent double fault.
“Obviously the challenge kept me in it,” said Kyrgios, who earned his Wimbledon wild card with his victory at the Nottingham Challenger event earlier this month. “The serve was in. It was a bit unlucky to be called out. It was a good serve, would have saved another match point. That’s the way it was. Obviously I was relieved that it did catch the back of line.”
Gasquet, who reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2007, criticized the line umpire who called the double fault.
“She should not have spoken at that moment. I had made a great return,” he said. “Hopefully she will learn from her mistake.”