Saturday 17 August 2019

Nick Kyrgios fans the flames of animosity ahead of his grudge match with Rafael Nadal in feisty press conference

Australia's Nick Kyrgios. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Australia's Nick Kyrgios. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Nick Kyrgios has opened fire as only he can ahead of his grudge match against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon on Thursday.

After his unfathomable five-set first round win against compatriot Jordan Thompson offered the now familiar mix of underarm serves, emotional highs and lows and a bizarre fourth set that Kyrgios lost 6-0 as he appeared to be trying to get to 0-40 in each game before trying to come back from the brink, he somehow, he managed to recover his composure in time to win a deciding set 6-1 and line himself up for a potentially explosive Centre Court clash with Nadal.

The clash will come just a few weeks after he accused the Spaniard of being 'super salty' in spiky comments that cannot have gone down well with the 18-time Grand Slam champion.

Kyrgios famously beat Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014 and he is eyeing up a repeat after insisting he relishes the chance to play against the giants of the game.

"Not sure that me and Rafa could go down to the Dog & Fox and have a beer together," he confirmed, before suggesting his feud with the Spaniard was started after a fiery exchange with Nadal's uncle Toni.

"I don't know him (Nadal) at all. I know him as a tennis player. I don't know him very well. I don't know what you want me to say to the question.

"I get along with people, some people I don't get along with. I mean, we have a mutual respect, but that's about it I think.

"I can't wait for this match against Nadal. I love playing against those top guys. That's just me."

Kyrgois went on to defend his performance as he beat Thompson in unconventional fashion, with the fourth set surrender explained in a manner only this maverick sportsman could dream up.

"If a boxer puts his hands down in a fight, does that mean he's not trying? Yes, no? What's that? It means he's trying or not trying? That my question," said Kyrgios, as he snapped back at his inquisitor in packed main press conference room at Wimbledon.

"Could be a tactic, couldn't it? How did the tactic pay off today? Good question," he sniped.

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Rafael Nadal in action on day two of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Kyrgios went on to suggest his on-court antics were good for the game, as he hinted some of his rivals should follow his lead and entertain the crowds.

"I think everyone just goes about their business the way they are," he continued. "I think the sport has a serious problem with that. I mean, just because I'm different, I go about it a different way, it causes a stir.

"I understand that people are different and people are going to play different. If everyone was the same, it would be very boring, no? I mean, I don't think there's a shortage of entertainers. I just think people go about it differently. Different perspectives. I don't understand why it's so hard for people to understand that."

With that Kyrgios left the room grumbling about the questions that had come his way, as the sportsman who appears to have a desperately short attention span for any topic prepared for his next date with Nadal on Centre Court.

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