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Teen who took down Rafael Nadal brought back to earth

By Euan McKirdy, CNN
updated 9:22 PM EDT, Wed July 2, 2014
Australia's Nick Kyrgios celebrates winning his men's singles fourth round match against Spain's Rafael Nadal.
Australia's Nick Kyrgios celebrates winning his men's singles fourth round match against Spain's Rafael Nadal.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 19 year-old stuns Rafael Nadal in Wimbledon matchup
  • Teen "never thought" he'd make the quarterfinals
  • Nick Kyrgios tipped for greatness, inviting comparisons with Boris Becker
  • Update: Teen's run comes to an end against QF opponent Milos Raonic in four sets

(CNN) -- The teen who stunned the world of tennis Tuesday from Wimbledon's Centre Court, beating Rafael Nadal in an audacious, four-set victory laced with fun and brazen moves, has had his fairytale first Wimbledon brought to an close.

Nick Kyrgios' run came to an abrupt halt Wednesday, with Milos Raonic, the No. 8 seed from Canada, disposing of the young Australian, 6-7 6-2 6-4 7-6.

But the 19-year-old from Canberra's achievement will live on as one of the shocks of the tournament.

To meet tennis world number one Rafael Nadal on the court at Wimbledon in his first appearance there, and to not only triumph, but to do so with an assortment of tricks, including an opening ace and a sublime between-the-legs flick that left the Spanish great dumbfounded, counts as a memorable introduction.

"Never did I think a week ago I was going to make the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in my first appearance," the wild-card entry, ranked 144 in the world, said in a press conference after taking this famous scalp.

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Heightened expectations

Until his win over Nadal, he was likely content to experience the tournament, play his Xbox -- which he brought with him from Australia -- and hang out with his father and sister, who accompanied him to London. He said he'd text his mother a smiley face after the press event ended. Now, expectations are somewhat heightened.

On court, Kyrgios carries himself confidence and verve that belies his 19 years of age, as his unorthodox, Nadal-stumping shot clearly demonstrated. After besting the five-time finalist over four sets, the world has been alerted to Australian tennis' worst-kept secret, a serial winner -- and world junior number 1 -- at youth level who is taking his senior career in his stride.

Many are tipping the right-handed, attacking baseliner as a future great of the game.

It's not an Aussie fairytale without precedent, however. In 1996, at another Grand Slam event, a young Mark Philippoussis -- an Australian who also boasts Greek heritage -- knocked out then-number 1 Pete Sampras to reach the fourth round.

"That's what it reminded me of, where (Kyrgios) just didn't go away -- he kept going for the shots and kept coming up with the goods," Australian great Pat Cash told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It was extremely impressive. It was amazing. It was almost faultless."

He started playing at six, and his background -- Greek-Australian on his father's side and Malaysian on his mother's -- is emblematic of multicultural, modern Australia, and currently divides his time between his hometown of Canberra and Melbourne, the spiritual home of Australian tennis.

He's at home on grass -- something that cannot necessarily be said for his erstwhile opponent, who has endured a torrid time at Wimbledon in recent years.

Becker comparison

After his phenomenal win over Nadal, comparisons are plenty, given the number of precocious talents who have graced Centre Court. But perhaps the most flattering is with the great Boris Becker, who as an unsmiling Teutonic 17-year old beat the South African Kevin Curren in the 1985 final, the first of his three Wimbledon titles.

"We keep saying 'who's the next guy?' and I think that we've found that guy,'' former Wimbledon champion and current commentator John McEnroe told the BBC. "It was absolutely stunning, what he did to the world number 1.

"He absolutely believed that he was going to win this match, and he's acting, to me, like he can win this tournament. The last guy I saw like this... is Boris Becker. That young teenager, no fear whatsoever, no matter what comes my way I'm going to be better than them.''

McEnroe's confidence in Kyrgios' ability to go all the way may have fallen flat for now, but for a 19-year-old in his first pro season, defeating one of tennis' all-time greats still counts as a remarkable success, and he will be relishing his return to the scene in a year's time.

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