Tennis wild child Nick Kyrgios has taken on an unlikely big brother role and is backing exciting teenager Omar Jasika to continue to turn heads at the Australian Open.
No one was more chuffed to see Jasika snare his maiden grand slam scalp at Melbourne Park than Kyrgios, who recorded the 18-year-old’s triumphant post-match press conference following the wildcard’s 6-4 3-6 6-0 6-4 victory over Ukrainian Illya Marchenko on Monday night.
“It was refreshing,” Kyrgios said.
“We’ve been really tight for a long, long time now. Me and him, I sort of play the big brother a little bit.
“We used to sleep at each other’s house and stuff like that when we were training together.
“To see him get a win at the grand slam level is pretty special because we used to wake up early, train together. We used to cause trouble and everything.
“To see him actually have success at that level is really, really good to see.”
Jasika, who won the US Open junior singles and doubles titles in 2014, has slashed his ranking from No.841 in the world to 310th in the past 18 months.
But Kyrgios said securing his first grand slam win at professional level was far more valuable than any rankings points.
“It’s massive. I got a grand slam win under my belt really early in my career as well,” said Kyrgios, the first player to reach the quarter-finals at multiple majors since the great Roger Federer 15 years ago.
“You think about that a lot, just to know you can pull out a performance like that in front of your home crowd.
“That’s not easy for him. He’s been struggling the last couple weeks. For him to pull out a win like that against a tough competitor in the heat shows the resilience he has.
“I think it shows great potential.”
Jasika’s reward is a second-round shot at 2008 Open runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Wednesday.
“Whatever happens now, I’m going to keep pushing. We’ll see,” Jasika said.
Kyrgios has no doubt Jasika will handle the occasion and gives his little mate a chance of toppling the ninth-seeded Frenchman.
“I think he’ll be fine. He’s got absolutely nothing to lose out there,” Kyrgios said.
“Omar goes out there and just enjoys himself, enjoys the experience.
“He can play on Hisense or even Rod Laver. For him it’s a massive experience, learning curve.
“I think he’s more than capable of causing an upset, as well.”