LONDON – For the third year in a row, Rafael Nadal made an early exit from Wimbledon after a stunning loss to a player ranked 100th or lower.
Nick Kyrgios, a 19-year-old wild card from Australia with a world ranking of 144, served 37 aces and used a fearless go-for-broke style — he even hit a winning between-the-legs shot — to beat the No. 1-ranked Nadal 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 and reach the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
“I was in a bit of a zone out there,” Kyrgios said. “I played some extraordinary tennis.”
On a day when former champion Maria Sharapova was eliminated in the fourth round and Serena Williams could barely hit a ball and had to pull out of a doubles match with a viral illness, Krygios made the biggest splash of all.
Playing in his first Wimbledon and fifth major, Kyrgios is the first player outside the top 100 to defeat a No. 1 at a Grand Slam since No. 193 Andrei Olhovskiy downed Jim Courier in the third round at Wimbledon in 1992.
Kyrgios served out the match against two-time champion Nadal at love, hitting an ace on match point. He dropped his racket to the Centre Court turf and held his head in his hands in amazement. He did a little dance to celebrate.
“That’s the biggest win of my career obviously, and that’s something I’m never going to forget,” he said. “I’m going to draw so much confidence out of that no matter where I play now.”
Kyrgios is the first man to get to the quarterfinals in his Wimbledon debut in 10 years, the first teenager to defeat a No. 1 at a Grand Slam since a 19-year-old Nadal beat Federer at the 2005 French Open, and the lowest-ranked player to defeat Nadal at any Slam.
For Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion and 14-time major winner, it marked another shocking loss at the All England Club. In 2012, he was ousted in the second round by 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol. Last year, he fell to No. 135 Steve Darcis.
“The thing is this surface, when you have an opponent who decides to serve and to hit every ball very strong, you are in trouble,” Nadal said. “In the second and the third set I was better than him, but I was not able to convert opportunities. And for the rest, he played better than me.”
Kyrgios, who saved nine match points in a second-round win over Richard Gasquet, looked like a star in the making, showing no nerves, flashing winners from all over the court, and dictating the play.
The 193-cm Australian struck 70 winners, compared to 44 for Nadal. He dominated with his serve, with a fastest delivery of 215 kph (133 mph). He hit a casual winner between his legs from the baseline in the second set.
Roger Federer kept up his bid for a record eighth Wimbledon title, beating Tommy Robredo 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals without the loss of a set.
Federer’s win set up an all-Swiss duel with Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka, who beat Feliciano Lopez in straight sets.
Sharapova, the 2004 champion, saved six match points before falling to Germany’s Angelique Kerber 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-4 in a fourth-round match that lasted 2 hours, 37 minutes.
Serena Williams and sister Venus pulled out after only three games of a doubles match against Kristina Barrois and Stefanie Voegele.
“I thought I could rally this morning, because I really wanted to compete, but this bug just got the best of me,” Serena said in a statement.
During the warmup, Serena had trouble collecting tennis balls and missed completely on some practice strokes.
In the match, she hit serves which bounced before reaching the net. Umpire Kader Nouni climbed down from his chair and walked over to speak to Serena. When the match was stopped, Serena wiped away tears as she left the court.