Drama, animosity mark Nadal’s second-round victory over Kyrgios
WIMBLEDON, England—Rafael Nadal was up near the Centre Court net when Nick Kyrgios smacked a booming forehand directly at the guy’s midsection—right at him, on purpose—and earned a lengthy staredown in return.
Kyrgios didn’t apologize, at the time or at his news conference—for that or for berating the chair umpire or for spending time at a local pub the night before the match.
Rarely does Kyrgios offer regrets, for much of anything. Instead, he tends to double down. He is nothing if not fascinating. He is talented, too. And yet it was Nadal who emerged from all of the tumult on Thursday at Wimbledon to beat Kyrgios, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3), in a second-round match boasting plenty of dramatics, a dose of animosity and delightful play by both men.
“I’m always willing to go out there and try and put on a show. I know people that bought a ticket today probably had a great day,” said Kyrgios, a 24-year-old Australian who is ranked 43rd. “But I’ll probably wake up tomorrow [and] there will be something negative about it, for sure.”
Kyrgios is capable of being as entertaining and befuddling a player as there is and showed why throughout this 3-hour-plus contest that overshadowed everything else going on around the grass-court Grand Slam tournament on Day 4.
Everything was rendered secondary to Nadal versus Kyrgios.
Part of that is because a 19-year-old Kyrgios beat then-No. 1 Nadal at the All England Club in 2014.
Part of that is because they traded barbs away from the court recently in a spat that also involved Nadal’s uncle, Toni.
These two couldn’t even agree on whether Kyrgios is capable of winning major championships.
Nadal’s take? “With his talent and with his serve, he can win a Grand Slam, of course.”
And Kyrgios’ self-assessment? “I know what I’m capable of. Just depends. I’m a great tennis player, but I don’t do the other stuff. I’m not the most professional guy. I won’t train day in, day out. I won’t show up every day. So there’s a lot of things I need to improve on to get to that level that Rafa brings. But, no, at the moment I don’t think I can contend for a Grand Slam.”
In the third set, there was that “dangerous” ball—Nadal’s word—he sent toward the Spaniard, who blocked it with his racket at the last second. Perhaps startled, Nadal double-faulted on the next point. But he wound up holding serve, then celebrating like he’d won the match, leaping and yelling and punching the air. When he eventually did seal the victory, Nadal wagged a finger and shouted and fist-pumped some more.
Asked by a reporter why he didn’t say sorry at the time, Kyrgios replied: “I didn’t hit him. Hit his racket, no? Why would I apologize? I won the point … I mean, the dude has got how many Slams, how much money in the bank account? I think he can take a ball to the chest, bro.” —AP
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