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'We have a mutual respect -- but that's about it'- Nick Kyrgios on grudge Wimbledon re-match with Rafael Nadal

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 3 Jul 2019
  • Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios will meet in a blockbuster Wimbledon re-match on Thursday after both men came through won their first round matches on Tuesday
  • Nadal and Kyrgios have had several spats this season, with Nadal accusing the Aussie of 'lacking respect' in Acapulco
  • Kyrgios has recently called Nadal 'super salty' and a 'sore loser'
Nadal and Kyrgios will go head-to-head for the seventh time on Thursday

World No. 2, Rafael Nadal set up a mouth-watering Wimbledon rematch with Nick Kyrgios following a 6-3 6-1 6-3 victory over Japan’s Yuichi Sugita on Tuesday. 

Nadal made a slow start against Sugita, and had to save three break points to avoid going down 0-3 in the first set, but he slowly upped his level, and came through comfortably in the end.

"[It was] a good start for me, winning in straight sets against a player that knows how to play on grass. He won a tournament. He won against good players on this surface. So it's a positive start for me," Nadal said. "I have another day tomorrow to keep working on the things that I need to work [on]. I hope that's going to help me."

A potential second-round meeting between Nadal and Kyrgios leapt out of the draw sheet when the draws were conducted, and that rematch will become reality on Thursday after both men won their first-round matches on Tuesday. While Nadal took out Sugita in straight sets, Kyrgios required five sets to get past his fellow Australian, Jordan Thompson, scoring a topsy-turvy 7-6 3-6 7-6 0-6 6-1 victory, complete with all the Kyrgios shenanigans.

There is plenty of history between Nadal and Kyrgios, both on and off the court, starting off in 2014, when a teenage Kyrgios pulled off a sensational four-set victory over the great Spaniard at Wimbledon.

“I've looked back on that moment. That's never going to leave my tennis career”, Kyrgios recalled. “It was one of the most special moments I've ever had.”

The pair have met five more times since then, with their head-to-head currently split at 3-3. Kyrgios won their most recent encounter in Acapulco in March, a feisty and eventful three-hour contest, after which Nadal accused Kyrgios of lacking respect.

"He is a player who has enormous talent," said Nadal, after losing 3-6 7-6 7-6. "He could win Grand Slams and fight the top positions of the ranking, but there is a reason why he is where he is. He lacks respect for the public, the rival and towards himself."

Not that Kyrgios was too bothered by the Nadal’s criticisms, saying he would not listen to the Spaniard nor take his comments into consideration. The Australian was a lot more expansive in his opinions about Nadal in an interview with the No Challenges Remaining Podcast in May, describing the 17-time major winner as a ‘sore loser’, and ‘super salty’.

"When he wins, it’s fine. He won’t say anything bad, he’ll credit the opponent, ‘He was a great player’. But as soon as I beat him, it’s just like, ‘He has no respect for me, my fans and no respect to the game’," Kyrgios said.

Unsurprisingly, Nadal and Kyrgios faced questions about their previous spats on Tuesday, following their first round victories at Wimbledon, and while their responses were more civil than some of the other things that had been said, it is fair to conclude that there is still no love lost between the two.

"Not sure that me and Rafa could go down to the Dog and Fox and have a beer together. I don't know him at all. I know him as a tennis player," Kyrgios said on Tuesday. "I get along with people. Some people I don't get along with". 
"We have a mutual respect -- but that's about it, I think."

On his part, Nadal was not interested in getting into another war of words, but he did maintain his stance on his previous ‘lack of respect’ comments.

"I am too old to get into all this stuff," the 33-year-old said. "I believed in what I said but I am not going to get into a fight with anyone."

Beyond the reservations both men have about each other’s personalities, they remain full of praise and respect for the other’s ability.

“He's one of the greatest tennis players of all time. I go into that match as an unbelievable underdog. I know if I play the right type of tennis, I can have success against him,” said Kyrgios. “I have to come with the right attitude and be willing to fight. If not, it's going to be butter for him… I need to rest and recover. I have a day out, then I want to go out there and have some fun.” “I’m going to grasp it with both hands, go out there and give it my best shot.”

Nadal is fully aware of the perils of a second-round meeting with Kyrgios, noting that he has got to be at his best to be able to get past the Australian. 

"I'll play against a top talent player, a very dangerous player," Nadal said. "He's a very dangerous opponent. Of course, [for a] second round it's a super tough one. I know that. I need to be at my 100 per cent. I'm going to fight for it."

Rafael Nadal vs Nick Kyrgios is live from Wimbledon on Thursday, 4 July.

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"We have a mutual respect -- but that's about it"- Nick Kyrgios on grudge Wimbledon re-match with Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios will meet in a blockbuster Wimbledon re-match on Thursday after both men came through won their first round matches on Tuesday.

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