Flashy and fearless teen undone by cramp
Rising Aussie teen Nick Kyrgios 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 in the early hours of Friday.
He was the last remaining Australian man in the singles draw following the earlier elimination of fellow prospect Thanasi Kokkinakis by Rafael Nadal.
Kyrgios was reduced to a virtual bystander in the final two sets after more than three hours on Margaret Court Arena.
However he refused to quit, drawing comparisons to countryman Bernard Tomic who was an early injury casualty against Nadal.
Kyrgios was happy to look at the positives rather than what might have been.
''Playing someone who's top 30 in the world and taking him to five sets isn't a bad result,'' he said.
''It was an honour to be out there.''
The Canberra player said he would be better for the experience.
''It's all the process and the more matches you play like that, the more experience and the more miles you get on your legs.
''Hopefully next time it (the cramping) won't happen.''
Paire now faces unheralded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut who upset fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro 4-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 7-5.
In a match that finished at 1.38am Kyrgios delighted a raucous crowd 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 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 Benoit.
''He was playing unbelievable in the first two sets.
''He was then tired and cramping which helped me.''