Nick Kyrgios has rocketed into fourth favouritism for Wimbledon as punters flock to back the precocious youngster to land a grand slam crown in 2016.
Japanese superstar Kei Nishikori ended Kyrgios’s run at the Miami Open with a 6-3 7-5 victory on Saturday (AEDT) to book a final date with world No.1 Novak Djokovic.
But Kyrgios’s march to his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final has not only propelled the 20-year-old into the world’s top 20 for the first time, but also left him on target for an all-important top-16 seeding – and possibly even higher – for the year’s remaining three majors.
Already the first player to reach two different grand slam quarter-finals as a teenager since the great Roger Federer, Kyrgios is being touted as the chief threat to tennis’s big three at Wimbledon.
Betfair – the betting agency where punters not the bookmakers determine the odds – lists Kyrgios as 11-1 fourth favourite behind only Djokovic, Federer and Andy Murray to reign at the All England Club in July.
If he did so, Kyrgios would be the youngest Wimbledon men’s champion since fellow Australian Lleyton Hewitt hoisted tennis’s most coveted trophy at 21 in 2002.
Punters also consider Kyrgios a much better chance than his new career-high ranking of No.20 suggests of winning the French or US Open this year.
He is sixth favourite for the US Open and on the seventh line of betting for Paris.
Refusing to get carried away by his flying start to the season, which also included his first career title in Marseilles, Kyrgios departed Miami knowing he has ground to make up on the sport’s heavyweights.
After outclassing power-serving 12th seed Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals, Kyrgios came up short against Nishikori, whose speed and shot-making had the Australian constantly running from side to side.
“He’s just playing such good tennis,” Kyrgios said of the world No.6.
“I know his game plan when he plays me; he plays so aggressively. He doesn’t let me dictate points.
“I was really looking for answers. I was trying to serve and volley a couple of times.
“But he’s playing great tennis. He puts so much behind the ball. He’s not just pushing it back. He can just hit a winner from anywhere.
“He moves really well and returns well. He’s too good.”
Djokovic earlier overcame a strong challenge from Belgium’s David Goffin to reach the final with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 victory as he continues his pursuit of a fifth title in six years in Key Biscayne.
The Serb has won six of his eight tour-level meetings with Nishikori but the Asian No.1 can draw confidence from his epic semi-final defeat of Djokovic at the 2014 US Open.