Australian Open poster boy Nick Kyrgios cools home hype

    Australia's rising tennis star
    Australia's rising tennis star


      Australia's rising tennis star


    Australia's rising tennis star 04:04

    Story highlights

    • Teenager Nick Kyrgios is the top-ranked home player at the Australian Open
    • The world No.50 fueled Aussie fever by knocking Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon
    • Kyrgios says he won't put pressure on himself at first grand slam of 2015

    (CNN)The poster boy for the Australian Open isn't quite sure he is the right man for the job.

    For once, four-time winners Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic are not center stage, and tennis hunk Rafael Nadal has been muscled out in Melbourne.
      The face of the fortnight belongs to homegrown hope Nick Kyrgios -- the highest ranked Australian on the men's tour.
      Wearing fluorescent sneakers, mismatched socks and a sharp haircut, the world No. 50 exudes typical Australian surfer cool on court but he has mixed feelings about his new found status.
      "They could have chosen a lot more better-looking people than me," Kyrgios jokes to Open Court presenter Pat Cash in an interview before the first grand slam of the new tennis season started.
      "When I saw myself up on a poster here ... well, it's just great to be play in front of a home crowd. I'm really excited."
      Kyrgios first sent the green and gold clad home fans into a frenzy when he won the Australian Open boys' singles title in 2013.
      A meteoric 2014 season then saw the Canberra big-hitter rise from world No.186 to Nadal's vanquisher at Wimbledon.
      Kyrgios became the first wild card in a decade to reach the quarterfinals of the grass court grand slam, firing a career high 37 aces past the two-time Wimbledon champion and bamboozling him with an array of trick shots.
      Tennis experts immediately picked him out as future champion, a successor to Australia's last grand slam star Lleyton Hewitt, winner of the 2002 Wimbledon crown.
      "That's a match I'm never going to forget," smiles Kyrgios, now ranked as world No. 50. "That was the best serving and returning performance I've had in my life.
      "Every time I get out on court I'm always thinking about it. It is confidence and motivation to train hard.
      "When you're injured, to know that you can play at that level, it's motivation to get healthy and get back out on the court."
      That's a reference to when the Australian's season hit the rocks in September because of fatigue and a niggling back injury after his Wimbledon whirlwind and a solid third round appearance at the U.S. Open,.
      Those injuries might be another reason for Kyrgios' reluctance to get caught up in the hype ahead of the Australian Open, which began in Melbourne, Monday.
      His competitive tour return at the Sydney International, five days before the start of the Australian Open, ended in a first round defeat by Poland's Jerzy Janowicz.
      The 19-year-old Australian had little time to get match fit for his home grand slam, so a five-set slog past Argentina's Federico Delbonis was probably not what he needed in the first round.
      One of two Australian players to reach round four, Kyrgios is determined not to get sucked into the pressure of home expectation.
      "Geez, I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself," he says. "But I'd love to go out there and make a run like at Wimbledon.
      "I definitely think I can make an impact if I'm healthy and feeling good. I can definitely match up with some of the best.
      "There is a lot of expectation. I'm still young, I'm still maturing. I understand that it's a long journey and I'm ready for that."
      Life on the peripatetic professional tennis tour means the 19-year-old is getting used to making personal sacrifices.
      He started playing tennis at seven, encouraged by his Malaysian mother Norlaila, who he promised to send a smiley face text to him after his victory over Nadal.
      His Dad George and older sister Halimah were in London to share in his success but his grandmother, who Kyrgios describes as "a massive part of my life," died just a week after his Wimbledon breakthrough.
      Kyrgios is beginning the new season with the number 74, in homage to his grandmother, tattooed on his finger.
      "I'm still trying to deal with some things in my life that have changed," he explains. "Sacrificing time at home, grinding out tournaments week after week.
      "I'm still learning how to deal with being away from friends and family. I think I'm dealing with it pretty well but I'm still a kid."
      The Australian may only be at the start of his senior career but he is already learning from the best -- his idol, Federer.
      "If I was to build my game around someone it would be Roger," adds Krygios. "He's the greatest of all time. It's extraordinary how consistent he's been.
      "I got an opportunity to train with Roger in Zurich for a week last year.
      "It was such a good opportunity to see what he would do on the practice court and his ability to create drills for himself, to develop his game.
      "He's still striving to get so much better and develop his game. That's what I learned so much from."
      Federer entered the Australian Open as the men's second seed, behind Djokovic, while Kyrgios was relieved of some pressure by being unseeded.
      If he has doubts over this poster boy status, the Australian is looking forward to playing the role of crowd pleaser.
      "Being able to get the crowd involved, hit shots they're going to love, that's what excites me most," he smiles.
      "Playing on courts like the Rod Laver Arena, it just gives me goosebumps thinking about it. I'll try to keep the crowd going for as long as I can."