Rafael Nadal Wins Compelling Battle With Nick Kyrgios To Reach Quarter-finals
Nick Kyrgios entertained but left empty-handed again as Rafael Nadal won a compelling fourth-round contest at the Australian Open.
Kyrgios, a huge basketball fan, was close to tears as he walked onto Rod Laver Arena wearing Kobe Bryant’s LA Lakers vest in tribute to the star, who died on Sunday.
And initially it appeared the emotion of the occasion, coupled with physical fatigue after his four-and-a-half-hour battle against Karen Khachanov two days before, would prevent him making a fight of it.
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But Kyrgios, driven by his efforts in raising money for victims of the wild fires, has been keen to show Australia that he cares on court as well as off it.
There was plenty more drama, with Kyrgios smashing a racket and handing it to a fan then missing a 135 miles per hour second serve at 5-5.
Nadal, seemingly distracted by a crying baby, double-faulted on his first set point but he created a second and took it when Kyrgios slapped a forehand into the net.
The 24-year-old, who was looking to reach his first grand slam quarter-final for five years, then double-faulted again to drop serve in the third game of the fourth set, and finally Nadal seemed to have the breathing space he needed.
But the world number one played a tentative game serving for the match at 5-4 and a mighty forehand from Kyrgios earned him the break back.
The home favourite, for that is certainly what he was here, saved two break points to ensure he would have a shot at another tie-break, but a fluffed drop shot at 3-4 cost him dearly.