Rafael Nadal warned his Wimbledon conqueror Nick Kyrgios on Tuesday that he will become a hunted man in the aftermath of his shock Wimbledon demolition of the 14-time grand slam title winner.
Kyrgios, just 19, stunned the world number one 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 in a fourth round sensation which sent Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 champion, crashing to his third successive loss at the All England Club to a player ranked outside the top 100.
But 28-year-old Nadal refused to anoint world number 144 Kyrgios as a future Grand Slam champion-in-waiting, insisting that he will need to handle the growing expectations which will arise from his Centre Court triumph.
“The sport is a mental part a lot of times. He has things, positive things, to be able to be a good player,” said Nadal, sounding a trifle world weary.
“But at the end, everything is a little bit easier when you are new. Everything is new. Nothing to lose. Everything is good. Everything is positive. You can do whatever and will be positive, and everybody sees just the good things in you.
“When you are already there yourself, the rest of the people start to see the negative things in your tennis. We’ll see if he’s able to improve and to play at very high level for a long period of time.”
Kyrgios is the first wildcard to make the Wimbledon quarter-finals since Germany’s Florian Mayer in 2004 and he made the fourth round the hard way, having to save nine match points in his second round clash with Richard Gasquet.
In the run-up to Wimbledon, he won a second-tier Challenger event in Nottingham before losing in the first round of another grasscourt event in the English city the following week.
Nadal said the fact that Kyrgios is still in his teens doesn’t necessarily mean that fame and riches will follow -- Nadal had already won his first Grand Slam title at the 2005 French Open just a week after he had turned 19.
“At 19, I was already playing these kind of tournaments and competing well. Now, it is very strange that the young players are coming so late,” said Nadal, who will lose his world number one status should Novak Djokovic win Sunday’s final.
“To be 19 is a perfect age to be on the tour and to play well. That’s what happened with all the great players in the past. It’s nothing new.”
Kyrgios fired 37 aces and 70 winners past Nadal but the Spaniard insisted he was happy with his general level of play as he made the second week of Wimbledon for the first time since 2011.
“I lost the match losing my serve just once during the whole match. I created my opportunities,” he said.
“But I was not able to read his serve during the whole match. I was not able to put enough returns inside. We had one break each.
“In the tiebreak he was able to serve better than me. So that’s an advantage.
“That happens when you have nothing to lose. You can play that way. Players who really play for being in the last rounds, think about winning the titles, it’s not easy to create the second serve 114-115km/h in the tiebreak, but that’s what happened today.
“Congratulations to him. For me? The beach.”