Sparks flew after Rafael Nadal’s stunning 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-7 (6/8) defeat to Nick Kyrgios at the Mexican Open on Thursday.
It’s not often you see Nadal squander three consecutive match points – he led 6-3 in the final set tie-break – and it was clear the Spaniard was not a happy camper when he gave Kyrgios a frosty handshake afterwards.
See in the video clip below:
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) February 28, 2019
Nadal did not hold back in his post-game press conference, stating: “He is a player who has enormous talent. 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.”
Nadal was clearly upset at world No 72 Kyrgios’ antics – the Australian once served under-arm to try and catch the world No 2 off-guard and also opted to serve quickly to make Nadal speed up his play.
Kyrgios was quick to fire back at Nadal, stating in response: “I’m different, Rafa is different. He can focus on what he needs to do. He doesn’t know the journey I’ve been through, he doesn’t know me. So I’m not going to listen at all.
“That’s the way I play. That’s the way he plays, he’s very slow between points and the rule of the book says you have to play at the speed of the server. But Rafa has the speed every time. I’m not going to comment on him and his game. I’ve got my game.”
The question here is: who had more of an argument on Wednesday?
Yes, Nadal is right to have a go at Kyrgios’ attitude but in this particular game the Aussie was actually more focused than we’ve seen him in a long while. He no doubt likes the big stage and has a decent record playing against the world’s best players.
Nadal did not take well to receiving an under-arm serve and did not like being rushed… then went and squandered three match points… this all played a part in his explosive comments in the post-game presser.
Kyrgios though has a point: Nadal has become renowned as a player who attempts to slow things down once the pressure starts to mount. It often proves disruptive for the rhythm of his opponents and it’s a tad surprising that there haven’t been more similar altercations in the past.
Regarding the under-arm serve, Kyrgios was well within his rights to attempt it. No law in tennis prevents this although some players see it as disrespectful.
But with Nadal standing so far behind the baseline, who can blame a player for trying something different?
It could perhaps work as a future ploy against Nadal on clay… see in the tweet below… it’s actually Nadal – and not the line judge – standing almost out of picture:
Who blames kyrgios when goes for the underarm serve? (Guy in purple is nadal, not a line judge) pic.twitter.com/StVK4M72vl
— FedExpress #20 (@TennisPhan2) February 28, 2019
Summarizing Thursday’s events, we feel Kyrgios successfully got under the skin of Nadal and it paid dividends. It was a match Nadal should not have lost – he was never broken after all – but maybe this was one of the few times the Spaniard has allowed himself to lose concentration due to external factors.
When last – if ever – have you seen Nadal hit a double fault at 6-all in a deciding set tie-break…?