Firebrand Nick Kyrgios is drawing inspiration from arguably the world’s greatest athlete as he attempts to repeat last year’s remarkable Wimbledon heroics.
Kyrgios, who is equally adept at garnering interest for his spectacular play as he is for his occasionally volatile demeanour, is taking a leaf out of the book of NBA star LeBron James, a four-time NBA MVP and the biggest name in basketball, when he graces tennis’ most famous tournament.
The Australian is an avid fan of the NBA, last week admitting he would rather watch the world’s premier basketball competition than tennis on TV.
Like Kyrgios, James is a showman who can engage and enrage crowds in equal parts – and is currently lining up an historic $US200 million ($A260.42 million) deal.
But it is something else about James, who sparked enormous controversy when he switched to NBA rivals Miami in 2010 before returning to Cleveland this year, that appeals to Kyrgios, and which the 20-year-old relates to.
“He’s got great confidence. He doesn’t care what people think about him,” Kyrgios said after his opening round victory over Argentine Diego Schwartzman.
Kyrgios, who faces world No.35 Juan Monaco in a second-round clash on Wednesday, has taken a similar approach during his rapid rise over the past 18 months.
“I play the sport the way I play it. I’m not going to change, you know,” he said when asked if he feared he was becoming the bad boy of Australian tennis after clashing with the chair umpire on Monday.
“I’m not trying to be anyone else. I’m just myself.”
Kyrgios, the men’s 26th seed, will be among five Australians in action on Wednesday.
Bernard Tomic, eyeing a third-round tussle with top-seeded titleholder Novak Djokovic, takes on Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
The 27th seed is familiar with the French qualifier and wary of his threat.
“Herbert beat me once, the only time we played in Kuala Lumpur,” Tomic said.
“I was up 5-2 in the third and lost 7-6. He’s a serve-volleyer and he’s not easy to play on grass.
“Obviously his ranking is not so good now – he’s 150 in the world or something – but he’s better than that.”
Wildcard Matt Ebden faces 17th seed John Isner and says he’s prepared to stay out on court all day if that’s what it takes to beat tennis’s marathon man.
Isner is the American bean pole who famously denied Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the final set of their 11-hour epic at Wimbledon in 2010.
“I’m as fit as they come and as fit as I’ve ever been,” Ebden said.
Qualifier John Millman hopes to continue his fairytale run against former semi-finalist Marcos Baghdatis.
And women’s 22nd seed Samantha Stosur has a golden opportunity against world No.107 Urszula Radwanska to reach the third round for only the third time in 13 visits to the All England Club.