Mendoza: Luksika and Kyrgios make me a dream

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By Al S. Mendoza

All Write

Friday, January 17, 2014


LUKSIKA Kumkhum and Nick Kyrgios have given me a thrill but then, even as they’ve been shown the door in the ongoing Australian Open after displaying streaks of brilliance though fleeting, I won’t forget them. I think they’re going to go places—that is, if they persevere and won’t fall prey to the pitfalls of instant celebrity.

They have just had their so-called, two-minute fling with fame with stunning performances in Melbourne. I hope that’d prod them to work harder as the Australian Open is just the first of four Grand Slams set for the year. The party has just begun.

Thailand’s Kumkhum is 20 years old and Australian Kyrgios, 18, has a Malaysian for a mother. They were both virtual unknowns before the Australian Open began, although Kyrgios was the 2013 Australian junior tennis champion.

In a first-class upset, the unseeded Kumkhum ousted No. 6 Petra Kvitova as she boldly blunted the dream of the power-hitting southpaw to return to the top. The tall Kvitova literally towered over the smallish, plump Kumkhum but then in tennis, ceiling is almost a non-factor.

However, while she was short of being phenomenal in thrashing Kvitova, Kumkhum was but a fraction of her old devastating self in her next outing, bowing to nondescript Mona Barthel, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6.

It was a big letdown but still, Kumkhum gave us some memorable moments as seeing her defeat a Grand Slam winner in Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, was a sure spirit-lifter.

I see it as another proof that Asians can always perform on the world stage at a high level, short frame and not much height notwithstanding, as in basketball.

Kyrgios, ranked No. 828, took the first two sets and seemed set to defeat France’s No. 27 Bernoit Paire. But then, Kyrgios threw away what appeared as a won third-set to lose a thrilling five-setter.

When will a Filipino ever get to play in the Australian Open—and in any Slam for that matter—again? It’s been decades since Felicisimo “The Mighty Mite” Ampon did the Filipino proud with his Wimbledon exploits from the Fifties to the Sixties.

Ah, to dream. It is a luxury that has no tag price.

(alsol47@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 18, 2014.

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