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Kyrgios saves three match points to stun Nadal in Acapulco

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 28 Feb 2019
  • Kyrgios beats Nadal in spicy Acapulco clash
  • The Australian saved three match points to prevail in a deciding set tiebreak
  • He goes on to face Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals
Nick Kyrgios celebrates his win over Rafael Nadal (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Nick Kyrgios has defeated Rafael Nadal in one of the craziest matches you’ll see this season to make the quarter-finals of the ATP 500 Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco.

(geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)

In a blockbuster Wednesday night second round showdown in Acapulco, the unseeded Kyrgios saved three match points and came back from 3-6 down in the deciding set tiebreak to emerge triumphant by a 3-6 7-6(2) 7-6(6) scoreline in three hours and three minutes, securing his third win over Nadal and and sixth over a top two player.

Kyrgios points to his ear after the crowd booed his celebration (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
It wasn’t the highest quality match - both men made a lot more unforced errors than winners - but in terms of pure drama, it might not be surpassed for the remainder of the year.

Coming into the match ranked at his lowest mark (No. 71) since 2014 - the year he beat Nadal to make the Wimbledon quarter-finals - Kyrgios was suffering from tendinitis to both his knees, which were heavily strapped, while he was also feeling sick in the early stages, even contemplating retirement after consulting the physios when he dropped the first set.

Saying he would ‘play a couple more games’ because he didn’t want to get booed off the court, Kyrgios - who has earned a reputation for tanking throughout his career - fought as hard as he ever has, and combined with some lethal serving and some menacing forehands, the Australian quickly sunk his teeth into the contest and drew level with Nadal at one-set all, racing through the second set tiebreak 7-2.

Both players had chances to break at various stages in the third, but it always seemed like the match was destined to be decided in a final-set tiebreaker - but not before Kyrgios tried an underarm serve to try and outmanoeuvre Nadal, who was returning next to the lines people. 

Nadal grabbed the crucial mini-break at 4-2 and looked poised to complete the victory when he propelled himself to 6-3, but Kyrgios refused to buckle under the pressure, serving his way out of trouble and cueing some drama when the Spaniard was too slow in getting prepared to face his booming serve, forcing the Australian to replay what would have been an ace.

Kyrgios was visibly annoyed at Nadal, and after arguing with the umpire, he then decided to switch racquets before his second serve of the replayed point in what was certainly some mind games towards the World No. 2. Kyrgios won the point for 5-6, and then - sensationally - Nadal doubled faulted with the match on his racquet. With all the momentum on his side, Kyrgios kept his foot on the pedal and claimed the next mini-break and would proceed to serve for the match at 7-6. The 23-year-old fired a bullet serve out wide for what he thought was an ace, only for hawk-eye to deem it a couple of millimetres wide. However, nothing would deter Kyrgios from there, and after a brief baseline exchange, he wrapped up the match after Nadal sent a backhand wide.

Kyrgios fell to the ground in celebration and roared to his coaching box as he got back to his feet, prompting what could only be described as a cool handshake from Nadal, while the majority of the crowd began to boo as he gestured to his ear in wild post-match scenes.

Nadal added further fuel to the fire post-match, declaring Kyrgios ‘lacks respect for the crowd and himself’, along with his opponents.

The 17-time major champion was playing his first tournament since losing the Australian Open final in straight sets to Novak Djokovic last month. Nadal will next move on to Indian Wells, where he has the chance to gain ranking points having missed the tournament last year.

Kyrgios meanwhile goes on to face old rival Stan Wawrinka, who beat Steve Johnson in straight sets earlier on Wednesday.

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Kyrgios saves three match points to stun Nadal in Acapulco

Nick Kyrgios has defeated Rafael Nadal in one of the craziest matches you’ll see this season to make the quarter-finals of the ATP 500 Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco.

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