Nick Kyrgios jumps into top 20, Novak Djokovic takes notice

Kyrgios won his first ATP title in February at Marseille, becoming the youngest active player to win a tour crown.

AFP| Updated: Apr 02, 2016, 23:48 PM IST
Nick Kyrgios jumps into top 20, Novak Djokovic takes notice

Florida: Nick Kyrgios would prefer to remain an international man of mystery, but word is leaking out -- the 20-year-old Australian is the fastest rising young star in tennis.

Known as much for emotional outbursts as great shot-making in his teen years, Kyrgios has found his place on the ATP Tour without losing his sense of self along the journey.

"I feel like nobody knows the real me," Kyrgios said. "But to be honest, I would prefer to keep it that way."

Kyrgios will jump from 26th to 20th in Monday`s world rankings, becoming the youngest player in the top 20 since Marin Cilic in 2009 after a Miami Open semi-final run, his deepest at an ATP Masters event.

"It`s pretty cool," Kyrgios said. "But there are 19 guys in front of me."

Kyrgios has found his biggest success after deciding not to take the sport so seriously.

"At the end of the day it`s just tennis," he said. "Things are happening every day that are more important."

But Kyrgios is making the tennis world take notice, including world number one Novak Djokovic, who has yet to face the prodigy from Canberra but likes what he sees.

"He`s definitely a very intriguing player to watch," Djokovic said. "He does have a personality and he`s very unique. I think it`s interesting for tennis fans to have Kyrgios, definitely, as somebody that competes at a high level.

"He`s young but he`s managing to perform his best in the big matches lately. He has got the firepower from more or less every corner. He has got one of the best serves. I think he`s picking his spots very efficiently. His second serve is very impressive in tough moments."

Kyrgios won his first ATP title in February at Marseille, becoming the youngest active player to win a tour crown, not dropping his serve once and ousting top-10 rivals Richard Gasquet and Tomas Berdych along the way.

By reaching the 2014 Wimbledon and 2015 Australian Open quarter-finals, Kyrgios became the first teen in the last eight at multiple Grand Slam events since Roger Federer in 2001.

He beat then-world number one Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of his Wimbledon run, becoming the first player since 1992 rated outside the top 100 to defeat the top man.

"These last few years on the tour, they have been a bit of a roller coaster, but I have learned a lot," Kyrgios said.

"I`ve really learned how to return this year and I`m moving really well so I`m giving myself more opportunities.

"I feel as if I`m a lot stronger, a lot fitter and I`ve just got more experience."

Djokovic likens Kyrgios` serve in big moments to that of 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic.

"High-risk second serve. But it`s working," Djokovic said. "He has that great technique, great motion. Tennis-wise, he definitely has skills. He has the quality. He`s a big guy but he moves well."

For now, Kyrgios is moving up the rankings and into the claycourt part of the season.

"I`m not going to set too many goals on the clay," he said. "I`m confident I can play on that surface. I`m not going to change anything I usually do."