It’s been five years since Nick Kyrgios beat Rafael Nadal in a fourth-round match at Wimbledon, and following first-round victories for the pair, they met again in what proved to be a thrilling encounter on Centre Court. Since the shock defeat for the King of Clay, they’ve faced each other on five occasions – but that hasn’t stopped the on-going feud, which has built to an exciting climax. If you bet on Wimbledon on Betfair, you’ll find Nadal the third-favourite at 7/1 to win the men’s singles title outright. Let’s take a look back at a rivalry that’s escalated off the court, but never really on it.
Kyrgios v Nadal part 1
Nick Kyrgios entered 2014’s Wimbledon tournament as a wildcard and then 19-years-old, he was ranked 144th in the world. Rafael Nadal on the other hand, was the world number 1 but had in recent years, suffered a torrid time at SW19. In 2012, Nadal lost to world number 100 Lukáš Rosol in the second round, following that up with a first-round defeat in 2013, at the hands of world number 135 Steve Darcis.
Winning the match: 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 on his Centre Court debut, Kyrgios was the first man outside the top 100 to beat a world number one at a Grand Slam tournament since 1992.
The bad-boy of tennis
Kyrgios needs no real introduction and he’s already caused a stir at this year’s tournament. When talking about the Aussie bad-boy, the words controversial and volatile often spring to mind and despite beating compatriot, Jordan Thompson: 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 7-6 (12-10), 0-6, 6-1, he still wasn’t happy.
His frustrations once again turned to the line umpire, moments after he complained about a photographer. Kyrgios had told his opponent to challenge a call, after Hawkeye ruled it out and then lost his call when the decision was overturned. “Does he get fined? Why does he not get fined? I am giving the guy points, telling him to challenge like that. I am giving the guy points. Wake up” he ranted.
Kyrgios v Nadal (and Uncle Toni!)
Since the pair met at the Mexican Open earlier this year, things have got a little heated. Kyrgios beat Nadal in the second round, before going on to beat the likes of Stan Wawrinka, John Isner and Alexander Zverev to win the tournament.
But very few professional tennis stars escaped the wrath of Kyrgios during his controversial appearance on the No Challenges Remaining podcast – including Nadal. It was all a little school playground, with Nadal accusing his opponent of “lacking respect” after serving underarm during their Mexican Open showdown. Kyrgios hit back calling the King of Clay “super salty” and being his “polar opposite”. And then Nadal’s Uncle Toni waded in.
Following another on-court meltdown by the Australian bad-boy, which saw him kick a water bottle, launch a chair and receive an instant disqualification at the Italian Open (as well as fined and stripped of his prize money and ATP points), Uncle Toni told Spanish publication Marca: “He has entered a dynamic that is detrimental to him.
“It is bad for tennis, something is failing, it is not normal.
“I have seen the images and they are quite painful.”
But the killer insult came when Toni said Kyrgios was devoid of “education and smartness”. Understandably, Kyrgios wasn’t happy and hit back: “Bro, I did 12 years at school, you idiot. I understand you’re upset that I beat your family.”
Kyrgios v Nadal part 2
Nadal made a shaky start to his 2019 Wimbledon campaign, losing 11 points in a row in the early stages but overcame Japanese Yuichi Sugita to win in straight sets: 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.
Prior to the pair meeting in the second round at Wimbledon, Nadal told the BBC: “Being honest, I’m too old for all this stuff.
“Too many years on the tour. What I said I said, and I believe in what I said. I’m not a guy that is going to be in a fight with anybody.
“I’m here to enjoy my sport. And to keep doing the thing I love as good as possible.”
And tennis won, as the Spaniard made it to the third round, winning: 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3).