- Nick Kyrgios defeated Rafael Nadal on Wednesday in a thrilling match.
- Kyrgios almost quit after the first set because of illness but kept going after considering how the media and fans would respond to his early stoppage.
- Kyrgios wound up fighting back to win in three sets and played into the crowd’s boos after Nadal’s final shot landed out.
- After the match Kyrgios and Nadal continued to trade barbs.
Nick Kyrgios defeated Rafael Nadal 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (8-6) on Wednesday in a thrilling, fiery match.
The drama started early, with Kyrgios telling trainers that he felt sick after dropping the first set but refused to retire from the match because of concerns over how the move would be perceived by both the crowd and the media.
“I know like, if I forfeit, it’s gonna be bad,” Kyrgios told the trainers. “The media’s gonna blow it up.”
Kyrgios is no stranger to controversy and has quit on matches in the past, so even if he was legitimately sick enough to retire from the match, he’s right to think that the media would not be likely to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Rather than let the media have a field day with what might be seen as a premature retirement, Kyrgios fought back with intensity.
The crowd was overwhelmingly behind Nadal, prompting Kyrgios to scream “shut the f— up” in response to their boos during the second set.
Kyrgios went on to win the second set in a tiebreaker.
In the decisive third set, neither player could break the other’s service, which led to yet another tiebreaker. Kyrgios would stave off a match point from Nadal, and eventually take the tiebreaker and the match.
When Nadal’s final shot landed out, Kyrgios immediately yelled out, and, after a quick handshake, put his hand to his ear to encourage the boos from the disappointed fans.
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) February 28, 2019
The fireworks didn’t end there.
After the match, Nadal criticised Kyrgios for his composure, saying he lacked respect for “the crowd, his opponent, and towards himself.”
Nadal: "Kyrgios is a player who has enormous talent, could be winning grand slams or fighting for the No. 1 ranking. He lacks respect for the crowd, his opponent and towards himself." pic.twitter.com/sVso2HIwyL
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) February 28, 2019
Kyrgios responded in true Kyrgios fashion.
“I’m different, Rafa’s different. He can focus on what he needs to do. He doesn’t know the journey I’ve been through. He doesn’t know anything about me, so I’m not going to listen at all. It’s the way I play.”
Trash talk aside, it was a compelling and well-fought match between two of the most skilled men’s players. Kyrgios held off three match points in total and defeated the No. 2-ranked player, despite never breaking Nadal’s serve.
With the win, Kyrgios moves to an impressive 3-3 in matches against Nadal. Should he win the next time the two meet, he’ll become just the third player to hold a winning record against the Spaniard.
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