WHEN Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios play, the tennis is almost always sensational. And today will be no exception as the two giants warm up for their clash later on this morning in the fourth round of the Australian Open, a match that promises to be a blockbuster showdown.
The match is due to kick off at 9 am Central European Time (CET) and the fervour between both players is almost palpable.
Kyrgios goes into the match in incredible physical and mental form.
“I feel good,” Kyrgios said. “I feel like my game is ready to go.” The talented Australian admitted in a press conference after his match on Saturday, the longest match of his career, winning against the big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov in a fifth-set Match Tie-break after four hours and 26 minutes. Adding, in reference to his up-coming match with Nadal, “I’m super excited, honestly. Playing one of the greatest tennis players on centre court at your own Slam, it’s pretty damn cool,” Kyrgios said. “Obviously it’s going to be another physical battle. Nothing comes easy with him. He had a relatively routine match against Carreno Busta, so he’s going to be feeling good. I’m looking forward to it. That’s why you play.”
But upsetting the Spaniard will be a tremendous task for Kyrgios. Kyrgios may be in exceptional form, but the legendary lefty, Rafa Nadal, who is chasing Roger Federer’s record of 20 major trophies this fortnight, is, at 33, in devastating form and is yet to drop a set in Melbourne.
It will be the first singles meeting between the pair since last year’s Wimbledon when the temperamental Kyrgios, who had previously described Nadal as a sore loser and “super salty”, lost in four sets.
Nadal then said about the extravagant Australian, “When he plays good tennis and shows passion for this game, he’s a positive player for our tour, and I want my tour bigger, not smaller,”
“It’s clear, of course, that when he does stuff that in my opinion is not good, I don’t like.”
Kyrgios had come under further scrutiny for mocking Nadal’s pre-serve routine in his second-round match against Gilles Simon following a time violation, but the 24-year-old said he only had respect for the Spaniard admitting:
“Regardless, if we don’t like each other or whatever, there’s a layer of respect. He’s one of the greatest of all time. I also read that he thinks I’m good for the sport.
“Doesn’t necessarily mean we like each other, but … we’re going to go out there and give contrasting styles and personalities.”
Kyrgios has recently shown a different side to his character, calling on the tennis world to help the victims of Australia’s bushfire crisis and triggering an appeal that has raised more than A$5.5 million.
But the question remains, does Kyrgios, even in his best form, his best mind-set, have enough to upset the 84-time tour-level champion, Spanish super star Rafa Nadal?
In other matches, Dominic Thiem faces Gael Monfils, Daniil Medvedev meets Stan Wawrinka and Andrey Rublev squares off against Alexander Zverev.
In the women’s draw, 2018 runner-up Simona Halep plays Elise Mertens, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova faces 17th seed Angelique Kerber while Garbine Muguruza meets Kiki Bertens.