LONDON: Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios resume their bitter rivalry at Wimbledon on Thursday as the two-time champion tackles the combustible and controversial Australian for a place in the last 32.
The match is being played against a background of a fierce war of words between the two camps.
Nadal has accused the Australian of a “lack of respect” while his uncle Toni, also his former coach, said Kyrgios’s disqualification from the Italian Open in May resulted from the actions of an “uneducated man”.
For his part, Kyrgios described Nadal as “super salty” and his “polar opposite” and that they have “mutual respect but nothing else”.
AFP Sport looks at their six previous meetings:
2014 Wimbledon (Round of 16)
Kyrgios 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3
— Just 19 years old and ranked at 144 in the world, wild card Kyrgios stuns the two-time winner, becoming the first player outside the top 100 to beat a world number one at a Grand Slam since 1992.
Kyrgios hits 37 aces and 70 winners before admitting his mother had inspired him but probably not in the way she intended.
“I saw an interview with her saying Nadal was too good, so that made me a bit angry and that helped.”
2016 Rome (Round of 16)
Nadal 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 6-4
— Nadal gains revenge for his Wimbledon shocker on his favourite surface with Kyrgios’s hopes curtailed by a hip injury which needs treatment courtside.
“Obviously he’s the greatest of all time on this surface,” said the Australian.
“When I was a bit younger, we were always talking about playing Rafa on clay, and I always thought I’d get absolutely destroyed against him.”
2017 Madrid (Round of 16)
Nadal 6-3, 6-1
— The Spaniard takes just 72 minutes to see off Kyrgios who sings along to Sia’s mega-hit ‘Chandelier’ between changeovers.
“I think it’s not normal to win against an opponent like this because Nick is a really good opponent,” said Nadal.
2017 Cincinnati (Quarter-finals)
Kyrgios 6-2, 7-5
— Kyrgios comes out on top despite briefly being booed by a crowd who considered a cheeky shot from between the legs to be disrespectful.
He wins them over by the end of the match when he writes ‘Barcelona’ on the courtside camera, instead of the customary autograph, in honour of the 13 peopled killed in a terror attack in the heart of the Spanish city.
2017 Beijing (Final)
Nadal 6-2, 6-1
— Nadal wins his 75th career title and sixth of the year after also triumphing at Roland Garros, US Open, Monte Carlo, Madrid and Barcelona.
Kyrgios hits 20 winners, but 35 unforced errors.
“I was a little bit more aggressive and that was the key,” said Nadal.
Kyrgios admits he was outplayed: “He played well. I played terrible. He’s in great form. He just destroyed me today.”
2019 Acapulco (Round of 16)
Kyrgios 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (8/6)
— Kyrgios saves three match points as he beats Nadal before going on to take the title.
However, Nadal accuses the Australian of “lacking respect” after Kyrgios complains of feeling ill and serving underarm.
“I don’t think he’s a bad guy, not at all. I think he’s a good guy, but what he lacks is a little respect for the public, for his rival, and also for himself. I think he should improve that,” said Nadal.
Kyrgios hit back: “He doesn’t know me. So I’m not going to listen at all. That’s the way I play. The way he plays, he’s very slow between points.”