Once-wheezy Nick Kyrgios breathtaking victory
Picture: ABC

Just five years ago Nick Kyrgios faced a tough decision - should he pursue his passion for basketball or concentrate on tennis?

The then 14-year-old had blossomed from a chubby child with asthma into a talented young sportsman who represented the ACT and Australia in basketball.

But in what he described as the toughest decision of his life, Kyrgios eventually decided to "give all his dedication to it (tennis) and see how it goes".

That decision was well and truly validated early yesterday when the 193cm powerhouse knocked world No. 1 Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon - surprising everyone, except perhaps himself.

As the 19-year-old Canberran prepared to face Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic last night, he was making international headlines for the four-set win against Nadal - and, in particular, a bold between-the-legs shot in the second set dubbed the "shot of the year".

While everyone from Hollywood star Hugh Jackman to Prime Minister Tony Abbott offered their congratulations, back home Kyrgios' mother Norlaila received a cheeky "smiley face" text message from her youngest child in reference to her pre-match doubts about his chances against Nadal.

"Last night, I was reading a comment that she thought Rafa was too good for me," Kyrgios said after the match.

"It actually made me a bit angry. I just believed in myself that I could create some opportunities and I took them under pressure."

Mrs Kyrgios said yesterday she was delighted to be proved wrong, while reminiscing about her chubby little fellow who loved his food and whose introduction to tennis was playing ball boy for his elder brother.

Thirteen years after he first picked up a racquet, Kyrgios entered Wimbledon last week ranked 144th.

He will leave with a ranking as high as 66, at least $400,000 prize money and countless new fans - won over not only by his fearless approach to the game but also his on-court charisma.

"I love to entertain," Kyrgios said after the match. "I think I'm always going to have a style of game that's aggressive.

"To be able to play my best tennis, that's how I'm going to have to play. I am going to have to play free, back myself under pressure." With his trademark hot-pink headphones, gold chain and playful personality - on full display with his "juicy wiggle" victory dance - Kyrgios is now expected to attract huge interest from potential sponsors.

"He has a reverence, and Australians love that, if you can be irreverent you will win the hearts and minds of the nation," WA marketing expert Barry Urquhart said yesterday.

"The market value of him transcends what he does on court, and he's now a brand, a walking model, and a platform to generate a considerable amount of money."

Christos and Nick Kyrgios. Picture: ABC

Kyrgios - who is set to play in the Davis Cup in Perth in September - was Australia's top-ranked junior last year but his foray into the senior ranks began with a gutsy five set loss to Frenchman Benoit Paire at the Australian Open this year.

Watching on at the time, former world number one Victoria Azarenka tweeted: "Australian tennis men's future is looking really good wow."

Andy Murray and Roger Federer, who trained with Kyrgios in Zurich ahead of the French Open this year, have also sung his praises in recent months.

Yesterday, tennis greats predicted big things for the future.

John McEnroe told the BBC "we are watching a boy become a man".

"He is acting to me like he can win the whole tournament," McEnroe said. "The last guy that I saw like that was Boris Becker.

"We've been waiting for this for a while . . . we keep saying 'Who's the next guy?' and I think we found that guy right now."

Todd Woodbridge said the victory - the first by a teenager against a world No. 1 at a grand slam since Nadal beat Federer in 2005 - was Pete Sampras-like.

"That was the most extraordinary tennis I've seen from a teenager, maybe since the likes of Pete Sampras when he kind of made his statement on tour," Woodbridge said. "It's excellent for Australian tennis."

Kyrgios, who is of Greek and Malaysian descent, comes from a close-knit family who take turns travelling with him on the tennis circuit. It was his father George and sister Halimah who got to sit courtside at Wimbledon, while his mother and brother Christos watched from their Canberra home.

Halimah said she was quietly confident of her brother's chances but was overwhelmed by the final result.

"I just started crying, to be honest," she said. "I've never been so shocked and overwhelmed at the same time. He played the best tennis I've ever seen him play.

"We're so proud of him." As for her brother's new-found fame, she was not surprised to see him lapping up the attention.

"He loves the crowd," she said.

"I think that's one of the ways that helped him win."

Christos was upbeat about remaining at home - confident in the knowledge he will get plenty of opportunities to see his brother shine in future.

with AAP

The West Australian

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