Former Canberra professional Alun Jones says Nick Kyrgios has the weapons to pull off one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history against Rafael Nadal, insisting he thrives on the big stage and won't fear the world no.1.
Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash has led a number of Australian greats in claiming the 19-year-old has the firepower and belief to worry Nadal, following his 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 third-round win over Czech Jiri Vesely.
On paper it's a monumental mismatch but Jones, the last Australian to take a set off Nadal at the 2007 US Open, said Kyrgios won't be intimidated by his fourth round showdown with the 14-time Grand Slam champ on Tuesday night (AEST), most likely on centre court.
Jones is convinced Kyrgios is capable of going two sets better and producing a boilover should he play at his peak.
"It'd be a great achievement getting a set, but I honestly believe he's going out there to win, not just get a set,'' Jones said.
"I think he's got a really good shot at winning.
"A lot of matches are won in the change room before they go out, but my experience with Nick is he's never feared anyone.
"I don't think he'll fear Nadal, he'll rise to the occasion."
Asked if he's capable of beating two-time Wimbledon champ Nadal after his win over Vesely, Kyrgios simply replied ''Yeah.''
"A lot of excitement - obviously 14 grand slams between us, so it's going to be a good match,'' Kyrgios joked.
"I thrive on those opportunities to play in front of a big crowd. I love it.
"I'm overwhelmed with happiness. Making my fourth round at a grand slam and the opportunity to play Rafa hopefully on centre court, but it's an opportunity I'm just going to embrace.
''It's probably his least favourite surface, but he's extraordinary on it, as well. He’s dropped a couple of sets on the way to the fourth round. He's still playing really good, I think.
"My serve is going to be a massive, massive part of that match for me to get into the match. I think I have been serving really well, so I think that's going to be the main thing.''
Jones believes that may not be the misguided confidence of youth.
"I'm not sure where he's at [physically], but if he's feeling good, I honestly believe he's got a really good shot,'' Jones said.
"It's another level, against Nadal and most likely on centre court, but Nick's a big stage player.
"This is the type of stage he wants to be on, and he plays better the bigger the occasion is.
"He's got the firepower and the game to do it, and he's got the belief, which is the biggest issue.
"My experience with Nick is he's never feared anyone. I don't think he'll fear Nadal, he'll rise to the occasion.''
Nadal has lost the first set in all three of his matches so far, including a 6-7, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 fourth round win over Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin.
Cash, the 1987 Wimbledon champion, feels Nadal is the most vulnerable on clay, and is yet to find anything near his devastating best.
‘‘I’ve watched Rafa play three times now, watched him very closely, and if Nick wants my advice I’d be more than happy to give it to him,’’ Cash said.
‘‘I think he’s got some firepower to trouble him to be honest. He’s got nothing to lose and the firepower to do some damage.
‘‘It’s a big ask to say he’s going to win or get more than a set but you never know.
"He [Nadal] didn't return particularly well [against Kukushkin] and I think that's where Nick is going to have a good advantage.
"He will get a chance to hit some short balls and go for it.''
Kyrgios has battled a knee niggle throughout the tournament, and Jones said having two days rest before facing Nadal ''has come at the perfect time''.
He added Kyrgios had proven himself to be a player with the ''guts'' to complement his talent by coming back from two sets down and saving nine match points in beating 13th seed Richard Gasquet in the second round.
"To me that was a [Lleyton] Hewitt-like effort, the way he came back and lifted his level,'' Jones said.
"I thought he may fade away toward the end of that match, but he showed the guts that's required to be a really top player.''