It’s been ten years — no, that’s not a typo, ten — since we celebrated our national day by getting an Aussie bloke into the quarter finals of the Australian Open.
Last night, with Nick Kyrgios one point away from defeat against Andreas Seppi, it looked like we’d chalk up another year of disappointment.
Nick had other ideas though. It wasn’t always pretty. From the couch, it was heart attack central. There were double faults and aces, emphatic winners and unconvincing shanks.
But the kid’s got ticker, especially on the big points. And his heart got him through, 8-6 in the fifth, where it looked at times like his legs might fail him.
Nick racks up some impressive milestones with this win. The first Aussie through to the quarters since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005. The youngest Australian Open quarter finalist in 24 years.
And there’s this one: the first teenager since Roger Federer to make it to multiple Grand Slam quarter finals. How do you like them apples?
Of course, he has his knockers as he climbs the international tennis ladder. He’s got a haircut more at home on a soccer field. On court, he has rearranged a couple of racquets that weren’t hitting the ball properly — well, they have to be told —and his language sometimes outdoes his shirt for colour.
But hey, I remember nineteen. Or bits of it anyway. Thinking back to those days, two things come to mind: tequila slammers and thank God there wasn’t any Facebook.
Frankly, you show me anyone who’s sensible at nineteen and I’ll show you an accountant in the making.
Then there’s the mental leap that goes with transitioning from an everyman on the professional circuit to potentially a tennis mega-star. I reckon he’s keeping his head remarkably well. So, back off, people, and leave the kid alone.
That includes you Victoria Azarenka, with your flirty little tweets and your ‘Oh Nicky, what a big serve you have’.
He’s about half your age and he doesn’t need the distraction. So, no Special K for you.
On another note, to the bloke who spent the last week walking around Melbourne Park posing as Bernard Tomic: who are you and what have you done with the real Bernie?
Sure you play a good game of tennis, probably better than he does.
But the other areas of your impersonation are all over the shop, mate. You really should’ve done your homework.
For one, the real Bernie doesn’t smile. He mooches round the court like a kid on detention. He’s surly in media conferences, doesn’t have a good word to say about his opponents and there’s no way he’d write ’74’ on a camera in honour of Nick Krygios’ late grandma.
He’s about as popular as the Bryan brothers and his idea of quads training is getting a lap dance at Schoolies.
You can see where you’re going wrong, can’t you? You’re trying too hard and being far too nice. It’s a dead giveaway. Now hop in a stupidly expensive car and get yourself a speeding ticket before anyone else suspects.
Yes, it’s been a strange first week at Melbourne. But we’ve got an Aussie fella into the second week. Happy Australia Day.