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Day 4 at Wimbledon: Rafa Nadal beats Nick Kyrgios in thriller on Centre Court

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When the main draw for the 2019 Wimbledon Championships took place last Friday, there were two major talking points.

Firstly, 15-year-old Cori Gauff was drawn against her idol, Venus Williams, in the first round. And we all know how that went.

But in the men’s draw, many fans were already looking at a potential second-round clash between Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios.

Of course, both had to win their first-round matches first before we could even think about that.

Nadal did with ease, beating Yuichi Sugita 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.

It was far from straight forward for Kyrgios, though.

He needed five sets to beat fellow Oz Jordan Thompson in what was a typical Kyrgios performance - both in terms of his tennis and his antics.

Not only are Nadal and Kyrgios both fascinating players to watch, but the clash also had added interest thanks to their not-so-good relationship.

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NADAL VS KYRGIOS - THE RIVALRY

The pair first faced each other at Wimbledon in 2014 when a 19-year-old Kyrgios stunned the then-world No.1 to reach the quarter-finals.

And the pair haven’t been the best of friends since.

They last met at the Mexican Open in February when Nadal wasn’t best pleased with a trademark Kyrgios underarm serve.

Kyrgios beat Nadal that day with Spaniard saying afterwards: “He could win Grand Slams and fight the top positions of the ranking, but there is a reason why he is where he is [then at a world ranking of 72]."

The ‘bad boy of tennis’ responded with an Instagram post in which he claimed: “I can smell the blood when I play this dude.”

Then, in a podcast released a weeks later, Kyrgios said: "He's my polar opposite. Literally my polar opposite. And he's super salty.

"When he wins it's fine, he won't say anything bad, he'll credit the opponent - 'he competed well today, he's a great player' - but then as soon as I beat him, it's just like 'he has no respect for me, my fans and no respect to the game'.

"I'm like 'what are you talking about? I literally played this way that I beat you the other previous times and nothing changed'."

After the two players prevailed in their first-round encounters, they were, as you’d expect, asked about their next opponent.

Kyrgios’ response?

"Uhm, not sure that me and Rafa could go down to the Dog & Fox [a pub in Wimbledon Village] and have a beer together. We have a mutual respect and that’s about it I think."

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NADAL VS KYRGIOS - THE MATCH

It was set up beautifully.

The two players walked on the sun-soaked Centre Court at 16:51 on day four of Wimbledon.

Kyrgios, as always, strolled out with his Beats headphones on.

But it was Nadal who was on song early on, breaking Kyrgios at his first attempt.

That break of serve saw him take the first set 6-3 - despite the enigmatic Australian holding one of his service matches with, yes you’ve guessed it, an underarm serve.

When he attempted the same thing in the second set, there were boos among some of the crowd who were less than impressed with Kyrgios’ failure to follow tennis traditions.

It was a second set that the Australian took early control, before Rafa broke back - leaving Kyrgios seething.

He appeared annoying at the length of time Nadal was taking to serve and remonstrated with the umpire, picking up a code violation warning in the process.

But to his credit, Kyrgios somehow regained his composure to break Nadal’s serve and take the second set 6-3.

In the third set and all level at 4-4, Kyrgios angered Nadal by smashing the ball at him and winning the point.

It fired up the Spaniard, though who was soon whipping up the crowd after holding serve.

After holding his serve, the two-time Wimbledon championship then held his nerve to win the tie-break and take a two sets to one lead.

But there were no histrionics or misbehaving in an enthralling fourth set.

There were also no breaks throughout the set with Nadal prevailing, once again, in the tiebreak 7-3.

He will now play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round.

THREE BRITS THROUGH, TWO BRITS OUT

It was always going to be a tough day for British hopes in the men’s draw as Jay Clarke took on second seed Roger Federer, Cameron Norrie faced eighth seed Kei Nishikori and Dan Evans met 18th seed Nikoloz.

But the latter booked a place in the third round after a terrific 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) victory over his Georgian opponent.

However, as expected both Norrie and Clarke were beaten by superior opponents.

First, Norrie was outclassed by Nishikori on Centre Court, losing 4-6, 4-6, 0-6.

Day Four: The Championships - Wimbledon 2019

Then, Clarke was no match for eight-time winner Federer, who claimed a 6-1, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 win.

In the ladies’ draw, British No. 1 Johanna Konta won on Centre Court, beating Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 6-4.

Earlier in the day, Harriet Dart produced a brilliant performance to beat Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia 7-6 ((7-4), 3-6, 6-1. Dart’s reward is a third-round meeting with world No. 1, Ashleigh Barty of Australia.

Meanwhile, at the time of writing, Andy Murray and his doubles partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert are down a set against Marius Copil and Ugo Humbert but a break of serve up in the second.

ELSEWHERE ON DAY FOUR

Elsewhere, last year’s ladies champion Angelique Kerber crashed out, losing to world No. 95 Lauren Davis.

There were no such problems for fourth seed, Kiki Bertens and sixth seed Petra Kvitova, who beat Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets.

Seven-time champions Serena Williams recovered from a set down to beat Kaja Juvan, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

But shocks continued to come in the men’s draw with ninth seed John Isner and 13th seed Marin Cilic losing to Mikhail Kukushkin and Joao Sousa respectively.

Topics:
Wimbledon
Nick Kyrgios
Rafael Nadal
Tennis

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