Rising Aussie teen Nick Kyrgios has lit up world tennis despite losing in five sets in the second round of the Australian Open.
The 18-year-old was both flashy and fearless but ultimately undone by cramps as he fell to French 27th seed Benoit Paire 6-7 (7-5) 6-7 (7-5) 6-4 6-2 6-2.
He was the last remaining Australian male in the singles draw following the earlier elimination of fellow teen Thanasi Kokkinakis by Rafael Nadal.
Paire now faces unheralded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut who surprisingly eliminated fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro 4-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 7-5.
In a match that finished at 1.38am Friday, Kyrgios delighted a raucous crowd on Margaret Court Arena with his massive serve and forehand coupled with a never-say-die attitude.
Typical of his shot-making, he saved set point in the second with a ridiculous half volley off his feet.
Kyrgios also won fans in the tennis world too with defending women’s champion Victoria Azarenka tweeting “Australian tennis men’s future is looking really good #wow”.
But the Frenchman played with similar panache, overcoming some early trouble with his erratic forehand and a knee problem that required a medical time-out.
He saved three break points that would have seen Kyrgios level at 5-5 in the third set, and then served out the set to remain alive in the match.
With Kyrgios barely able to move in the final set with leg cramps, Paire took control to come back from two sets down for the first time ever.
“It was a really good match and I was really happy to win,” said Paire.
“He was playing unbelievable in the first two sets.
“He was then tired and cramping which helped me.”