Nadal’s sly sledge reveals Kyrgios truth
Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios don't get along. That's why their second-round match at Wimbledon is going to be must-watch tennis.
After losing to Kyrgios at the Mexican Open this year, Nadal accused his rival of being disrespectful. The Aussie responded by labelling him "super salty" and also hit out at his uncle Toni, claiming the star's former coach started the bad blood between the two camps.
Nadal's legendary work ethic and humility put him at odds with Kyrgios's brash showmanship and "I won't apologise for anything" mentality, which probably explains why the Canberra product said yesterday the pair aren't likely to have a beer together any time soon.
"I get along with people, some people I don't get along with," Kyrgios said. "I mean, we have a mutual respect, but that's about it I think."
After a straight sets win over Yuichi Sugita at the All England Club, Nadal was quizzed about what he's expecting against Kyrgios in round two.
"My thoughts are very clear, no? I play against a top talent player, very dangerous player when he wants to play tennis," Nadal said.
"Normally against the best players, he wants to play tennis. When that happens, he's a very dangerous opponent.
"Of course, second round is a super tough one. I know that. I need to be at 100 per cent. I am going to fight for it."
The Spaniard is dead right. Kyrgios is a very dangerous player - when he wants to be. When he doesn't, he often beats himself.
But Nadal won't be getting any help from the other side of the net on Thursday. While a disinterested Kyrgios can be easy fodder for lesser ranked players, he always tunes in against the big guns.
Against Nadal his head-to-head record is 3-3, as it is with three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka. Against Novak Djokovic, Kyrgios is 2-0 and against Roger Federer he's won once in six attempts.
It's an enviable record against tennis's top dogs and one few of Kyrgios's peers - especially his age (24) - can boast about.
"It's just me, bro," Kyrgios said when asked why his record against the world's best is so strong. "I don't know what to say. I just love playing them.
"I can't wait (to play Nadal). As soon as the draw came out, I was super happy that I saw him in my section. I mean, it's more exciting.
"When you're a kid, you want to play the best players in the world on what I think is the best court in the world. This is something that I can't take for granted. There's no guarantee I'm going to be here again in this position. Could have an injury or something like that.
"Going into the match, 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.
"I have to come with the right attitude, I have to be willing to fight. If not, it's going to be butter for him. He's one of the best tennis players."
Kyrgios may have dropped the fourth set against fellow Aussie Jordan Thompson 0-6 in just 18 minutes in his Wimbledon opener, but he still showed plenty of fight to prevail in a five-set thriller against the in-form grass courter, who sits just one spot below his countryman in the world rankings.
Like Nadal suggested, when he wants to, Kyrgios can mix breathtaking talent with mental fortitude. It's just not a combination seen often enough for some people's liking.
Nadal is ranked No. 2 in the world while Kyrgios is unseeded at Wimbledon, so the Spaniard is the favourite to advance to the third round. But whatever the result, the post-match handshake at the net will be worth hanging around for.