Nadal vs. Kyrgios – Four of the best in a trying history

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London (AFP) – Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios will meet for a place in the Wimbledon final on Friday in what the Australian star claims is “the most-watched tennis match of all time”.

Nadal leads their series 6-3. AFP Sport look back on four of their most memorable matches in a thrilling and often grueling rivalry.

Wild Thing Kyrgios in Wimbledon stunner

– At just 19 and ranked 144th in the world, the All England Club got their first look at Kyrgios, a brash Australian wildcard.

Nadal was the two-time Wimbledon champion and world number one.

However, his dreams of a third title were shattered on center court as Kyrgios cruised to a famous 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 win.

Kyrgios unleashed 37 aces and a total of 70 winners.

“It’s obviously the biggest win of my career, and it’s something I’ll never forget,” Kyrgios said. “To have that under my belt is huge.”

American legend John McEnroe has named Kyrgios as future Grand Slam champion.

“I think we found the next guy in the men’s game. I couldn’t believe he could go on like this all game. He had this feeling that he absolutely believed he was going to win,” McEnroe said.

Nadal tells Kyrgios he has ‘no respect’

– After 2014, Nadal won three of the pair’s next four encounters, but Kyrgios stunned the Spaniard again in a moody last-16 game in Acapulco, winning 3-6, 7-6 (7/ 2), 7-6 (8/6), saving three match points in the decisive tie-break.

Kyrgios had complained of feeling bad in the second set but was rejuvenated in the third, even serving under the arms, much to Nadal’s irritation.

“I don’t think he’s a villain, but what he lacks is some respect for the public, for his rival and also for himself. I think he should improve on that,” said Nadal.

Kyrgios was marble.

“I’m different. Rafa is different. He can focus on what he needs to do. He doesn’t know me. So I’m not going to listen at all. That’s how I play. The way he plays , he is very slow between points.”

Body shots at Wimbledon

– Later in 2019, the two renewed their Wimbledon rivalry with Nadal winning their second-round duel, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/3).

Nadal arrived at the All England Club having won a 12th French Open while Kyrgios had only won consecutive matches twice all year.

Body talk: Kyrgios returns the ball to Nadal at Wimbledon in 2019 Daniel LEAL AFP/File

Kyrgios served underarm twice, was given a code violation for unsportsmanlike behavior and complained that Nadal was taking too long between points.

The Australian even stole the ball directly at Nadal’s body, later claiming it was deliberate.

“Why should I apologize? I mean, the dude has how many slams, how much money in the bank account? I think he can take a bullet to the chest. I wanted to punch him in the chest. Like, he’s got good hands.”

Nadal replied: “When he hits the ball like that, it’s dangerous. It’s not dangerous for me, it’s dangerous for a line referee, dangerous for the crowd.”

At Wimbledon this year, Kyrgios revealed he had been drinking at a local bar until 4am on that match day in 2019 and had to be “dragged” by his agent.

Nadal leads in Australia despite mockery from Kyrgios

– Nadal emerged victorious in the round of 16 at the Australian Open, winning 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/4).

Earlier in the tournament, Kyrgios mocked the Spaniard by mimicking Nadal’s habit of pulling the back of his shorts and brushing his hair behind his ears.

“I really don’t care. I’m here to play tennis,” Nadal said.

An emotional Kyrgios had entered the Rod Laver Arena in tears, wearing the LA Lakers jersey in honor of Kobe Bryant, who had died a few days earlier.