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'I was going for him. I wanted to hit him', Kyrgios unapologetic after aiming a shot at Nadal in feisty Wimbledon contest

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 5 Jul 2019
  • Nick Kyrgios was unapologetic after aiming a shot at Nadal in their feisty Wimbledon contest. 
  • Nadal battled to a four-set victory over the Australian, setting up a third-round meeting with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Nick Kyrgios. (Photo by AFLO)

Nick Kyrgios was unapologetic after aiming a shot directly at Rafael Nadal during their feisty second round clash at Wimbledon on Thursday.

Two-time champion, Nadal overcame Kyrgios 6-3 3-6 7-6 7-6 to move into the third round, and while the actual tennis was captivating, so was the drama around the contest. It was built up as a grudge match between two players who do not exactly get along very well, and it certainly did not disappoint.

Both players had been aiming verbal volleys at each other since a meeting in Acapulco in February, with Nadal accusing Kyrgios of “lacking respect for the public, the opponent and for himself”, and Kyrgios firing back later, describing the Spaniard as a ‘sore loser’ and ‘super salty’. Nadal stood by his Acapulco comments in the build-up to their Wimbledon re-match, insisting ‘I believed in what I said’, while Kyrgios opined he didn’t think he would be sharing a drink with the Spaniard anytime soon.

There was barely any eye contact between the players as they walked on to Centre Court, and during the coin toss, but it was Nadal’s racket that did the early talking, as the determined Spaniard raced into a 3-0 lead. 


Kyrgios had irked Nadal in Acapulco by employing the underarm serve, and that shot made another appearance towards the end of the first set, although it did not deter Nadal from taking the set. Kyrgios also had issues with the amount of time Nadal was taking between points- another talking point from Acapulco- especially when the Spaniard set up to receive serve, and he constantly made that point to the chair umpire. His mood was not helped when Nadal went off the court for a toilet break after capturing the first set.

"I'm serving next and he chooses to go now?" Kyrgios asked the umpire.

That seemed to fire Kyrgios up, as he opened up a 3-0 lead at the start of the second set, but Nadal got back on serve in the seventh game, prompting another exchange between Kyrgios and the umpire- the Australian again complaining about the time his opponent was taking between points, and earning himself a code violation for his troubles.

"Feels good up there with all that power does it?" he asked again.

There was a good chance Kyrgios would suffer a meltdown and basically give the match away, as had happened a lot in the past, but to his credit, he somehow kept his focus and won the next two games to level the match at one-set all.

Kyrgios continually chirped away in the third set, but the biggest flash point came at 4-4, when he aimed a ferocious forehand at Nadal- the world No. 2 doing extremely well to get a racket between ball and body in self defence. Nadal looked over across the net, perhaps expecting an apology from Kyrgios, but none was forthcoming, prompting a prolonged stare from the great Spaniard. 

“The history of this sport is about respect, playing fair the whole time,” Nadal said when asked about the shot. “When Nick hits a ball like this, it’s dangerous. I want to play a tennis match, and sometimes it’s difficult.”

“Why would I apologize?” an unrepentant Kyrgios fired back in his presser. “I won the point”. I was going for him. I wanted to hit him".  
“I don’t care. The dude has got how many slams, how much money in his bank account? I think he can take a ball to the chest, bro. I’m not going to apologize to him at all.”

Nadal was clearly rattled, and sent down a double fault on the next point, but he wriggled out of the game via deuce, celebrating vehemently after game point. The set proceeded into a tie break, and it was the super-charged Spaniard that found his best tennis, serving beautifully, and getting meaningful returns in play to take the breaker 7-5.

The drama died down a bit in the fourth set, as the actual tennis took over, with both men holding serve fairly comfortably leading into an inevitable tie break. Again, it was Nadal, who was 0-5 in tie breaks against Kyrgios before this match, that found his best tennis when it mattered most, gaining an early lead and never looking back as he went on to claim his 50th match win at Wimbledon.

"He was a tough opponent," Nadal said after the match. "When he wants to compete, he's one of the toughest opponents you can face”. 
"It was an important victory for me, sometimes it's tough to see a couple of things on court. It's amazing how good he is able to play, so if he is able to forget all these things, he's potentially a Grand Slam winner."

Nadal will play Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round on Saturday.


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"I was going for him. I wanted to hit him", Kyrgios unapologetic after aiming a shot at Nadal in feisty Wimbledon contest

Nick Kyrgios was unapologetic after aiming a shot at Nadal in feisty Wimbledon contest. Nadal battled to a four-set victory over the Australian, setting up a third-round meeting with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

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