BASKETBALL FIRST LOVE: Australia’s rising hope Nick Kyrgios, who tipped out Rafael Nadal last year at Wimbledon, aims to bounce his way deep into the second week of action in London.
BASKETBALL FIRST LOVE: Australia’s rising hope Nick Kyrgios, who tipped out Rafael Nadal last year at Wimbledon, aims to bounce his way deep into the second week of action in London. Sang Tanaap

Kyrgios and Raonic set for Wimbledon collision

AFTER making the tennis world sit up and take notice by beating then-world No.1 Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year, Nick Kyrgios had his fairytale run ended in the quarter-finals by big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.

The pair is on a collision course again, with a third-round match-up on the cards provided they can negotiate their early opponents.

And while Kyrgios is at very short odds to begin his campaign with a victory against Argentine Diego Schwartzman tonight, this time it has been his words off the court rather than his actions on it that have been creating the headlines.

Asked on more than one occasion whether he was passionate about the game, the world No.29 said he would rather be playing basketball.

"I don't really like the sport of tennis that much," the 20-year-old said.

"When I was 14, I was all for basketball and I made the decision to play tennis. I got pushed by my parents and to this day I can still say I don't love the sport. It is just crazy how things go.

"I just love basketball. I love the sport. I always have. I try when I'm on the road with tennis not to watch too many basketball videos and stuff like that, to keep me focused, but it's tough."

Kyrgios will be one of nine Australian men in action on day one at the All-England club, and one of just two seeds.

The other is Bernard Tomic, who is also heavily favoured to beat German Jan-Lennard Struff.

Marinko Matosevic, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Matt Ebden, Luke Saville, John Millman, John-Patrick Smith and 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt are also scheduled to play tonight.

Hewitt and seven-time champion Roger Federer will make their 17th appearances at Wimbledon, the most of any current player and only four behind all-time leader Jimmy Connors.

But while Federer, still ranked No.2 in the world, has given no indication when he might call time on his career, this year will be the last time Hewitt plays in the main draw before retiring after next year's Australian Open.

The 34-year-old has drawn Finnish veteran Jarko Nieminen in the first round, and if he wins that match, would most likely face top seed Novak Djokovic in round two.

The other two Aussie men in the draw - Sam Groth and James Duckworth - are scheduled to play tomorrow night, with the 11-strong contingent behind only Spain (13) and France (12).

Meanwhile, Sam Stosur - the only one of the five Australian women in the draw to have been seeded - begins her campaign tonight against little-known Danka Kovinic from Montenegro.

Russian-born Daria Gavrilova, who plays under the Australian flag at grand slam tournaments, will play her first-round match against Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu.

- APN SPORTS BUREAU

AUSSIES IN ACTION

Men: Lleyton Hewitt v Jarko Niemenen, Bernard Tomic (27) v Jan-Lennard Struff, Thanasi Kokkinakis v Leonardo Mayer (24), Matt Ebden v Blaz Rola, John Millman v Tommy Robredo (19), Marinko Matosevic v Liam Broady, John-Patrick Smith v Kenny De Schepper, Luke Saville v Richard Gasquet (21), Nick Kyrgios (26) v Diego Schwartzman.

Women: Daria Gavrilova v Irina-Camelia Begu (29), Sam Stosur (22) v Danka Kovinic.


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