Nadal downs Kyrgios in four-set spectacular
Rafael Nadal subdues Nick Kyrgios in four intense sets in their highly-anticipated second-round match on Centre Court at Wimbledon.
Rafael Nadal ended Nick Kyrgios’ Wimbledon campaign with a four-set victory at Centre Court on Thursday evening.
The Spaniard scored a 6-3 3-6 7-6(5) 7-6(3) victory in what was more than three hours of high-quality, absorbing tennis.
Nadal’s win sends him through to the third round, where he will meet Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. And it means that he edges ahead of Kyrgios 4-3 in their head-to-head series.
Kyrgios had won their only previous meeting at Wimbledon – beating Nadal in the fourth round as a teenager in 2014 – as well as their most recent meeting in Acapulco five months ago.
“I mean, I get disappointed, but at the same time (the way) I played today, I left it all out there,” a philosophical Kyrgios said in his press conference.
“I can’t be too disappointed. A couple points here or there. He’s a champion. He played well in those moments. That’s why he’s one of the greatest there is.
“I thought it was a high-level match. Two tiebreaks. I played a couple loose points here or there. That’s all it takes against a player like that. He was just too good today.”
— Brett Haber (@BrettHaber) July 4, 2019
Nadal started the match extremely dialled in, dropping just three points en route to a 3-0 lead. Kyrgios eventually settled, and fired a second-serve ace that registered at 143mp/h on the serve clock – 230km/h in metric terms – to open the eighth game.
He closed it with an underarm serve ace to hold serve at love, narrowing the gap to 5-3.
When Centre Court met the underarm ace…
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 4, 2019
Although Nadal pocketed the first set by serving out the next game, Kyrgios had by now sunk his teeth into the contest.
He broke Nadal in the second game thanks to two punishing forehands, then held serve to skip out to a 3-0 lead. He extended that lead to 4-1 with another underarm serve that Nadal returned into the net.
Nadal broke back in the seventh game at love when Kyrgios slapped a forehand into the net, but the Aussie shrugged that off and returned fire in the eighth, producing two volley winners either side of a forehand winner to jump ahead 5-3.
A game later, the match was locked at a set apiece.
The third and fourth sets fell into the pattern of routine service holds, with neither stanza featuring a single break point.
This is not unusual in a match featuring Kyrgios, but what was notable was Nadal’s serving prowess; the Spaniard landed more than 70 per cent of his first serves while averaging almost 190km/h on his first delivery, making him practically unbreakable.
His forehand was also firing, meaning Nadal was frequently matching Kyrgios’ first-strike style.
“His 1-2 punch, his first serve and his first forehand is probably the best 1-2 punch in the world, apart from Federer,” Kyrgios said.
As the fourth set wore on, Kyrgios began to look fatigued. And by the time the tiebreak rolled around, his game became littered with errors.
The match ended when Kyrgios sent a final backhand into the net.
“I knew his game plan, I got onto it pretty quickly. He directed most of his serves to my forehand. He hasn’t really done that in the past. It’s definitely my weaker return. He was definitely trying to stay away from my backhand return a lot,” Kyrgios said.
“But I thought just on big points, I mean, he played well. Hit his forehand extremely well. When Rafa plays well, he hits his forehand line extremely well. I thought today he was on fire with that shot.
“His ability to bring it every day and compete, it’s special. It’s not easy.”