Rafael Nadal recalls: ‘Nick Kyrgios does not respect his opponents, crowd or himself’

Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios have played eight times so far, with the Spaniard scoring five wins. Showing no signs of fear and not being impressed by a legend on the other side of the net, the 19-year-old Aussie stunned Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014, and they had a couple of more exciting duels. Two rivals played six tie breaks in their previous ten sets, staying neck and neck and constantly pushing each other to the limits. As always with Kyrgios, Nadal was not pleased with how the Aussie behaved in some of their encounters, especially in Acapulco two years ago. After all kinds of drama, Kyrgios toppled Nadal 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 in three hours and three minutes after fending off three match points in the deciding tie break! Heading to Acapulco with troubled knees and five matches on his tally in 2019, Nick found some extra gear to score two wins and reach the quarter-final. Leading 6-3, 4-4, a former champion Nadal wasted four break points that could have pushed him closer to the finish line.

Rafa also sprayed no less than five break chances at 3-2 in the decider and extra three match points at 6-3 in the tie break before dropping the last five points to propel Nick into the last eight. The Spaniard had 39 winners and 17 unforced errors while Kyrgios counted to a 58-49 ratio, firing bullets from his serve and forehand to keep points on his racquet and forge the win against all the odds. Nadal lost just four points on serve in the opening set and brought it home with a break in game six after Nick’s poor volley. Four winners at 5-3 were enough to send Nadal in front after 34 minutes, and he had those chances in the ninth game of the second set when Kyrgios faced elimination. Fighting for every point, the Aussie fired four winners to repel break opportunities and stay in the match, building momentum and winning the tie break 7-2 after early mini-breaks, which would prove crucial for the ultimate result.

Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios played a thrilling match in Acapulco 2019.

Rafa sailed through his service games in the final set as well (he faced a single break point in the entire match!), and it just was not to be for him, wasting no less than five break chances in the sixth game (four after Nick’s winners) and creating those three match points in the tie break after a volley winner. Nick saved the first two with direct points, and the Spaniard squandered a significant chance on the third, keeping the opponent in the match and hitting a double fault in the worst possible moment to fall 7-6 down. Kyrgios sealed the deal in the 14th point when Nadal’s backhand landed long and celebrated one of the most significant wins of his career. Rafa was not pleased with Nick’s behavior on the court, the underarm serve and the fact he spent almost no time between serves, leaving him unprepared for the returns. The crowd booed the Aussie after the last point, and the handshake between the players was anything but friendly. 

“Nick is a player who has enormous talent, and he could be winning Majors or fighting for the No. 1 spot in the rankings. He is not a bad guy, but he lacks respect for the crowd, his opponent and himself,” Rafael Nadal said.