Kyrgios’ antics in loss to Nadal overshadow other events at Wimbledon | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World Sports

Kyrgios’ antics in loss to Nadal overshadow other events at Wimbledon

Associated Press
1373469_web1_1373469-c1c2defb65724bf3a0ace8cc1d257a5f
AP
Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after beating Britain’s Jay Clarke in a Men’s singles match during day four of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Thursday, July 4, 2019.
1373469_web1_1373469-bcc5afe07b5b4d96b998712521eee99e
AP
United States’ Lauren Davis celebrates after beating Germany’s Angelique Kerber in a Women’s singles match during day four of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Thursday, July 4, 2019.
1373469_web1_1373469-79be0942b5a647e0b056d46612d24484
AP
A spectator shelters from the sun as she watches Germany’s Angelique Kerber return to United States’ Lauren Davis in a Women’s singles match during day four of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Thursday, July 4, 2019.
1373469_web1_1373469-37abaaea72c141289e9b08e9e2374018
AP
Australia’s Ashleigh Barty celebrates after beating Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck in a Women’s singles match during day four of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Thursday, July 4, 2019.
1373469_web1_1373469-3f83d7ad5ed7484c81cadc748503cb0c
AP
Australia’s Ashleigh Barty returns to Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck in a Women’s singles match during day four of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Thursday, July 4, 2019.
1373469_web1_1373469-40a64b25119f47bc9d8c85e28b1caba6
AP
United States’ Sloane Stephens returns to China’s Yafan Wang in a Women’s singles match during day four of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Thursday, July 4, 2019.
1373469_web1_1373469-222ea0be5fdd4a42a9067a14d886556f

WIMBLEDON, England — Rafael Nadal was near the Centre Court net when Nick Kyrgios smacked a booming forehand directly at him — on purpose — and earned a lengthy staredown in return.

Kyrgios didn’t apologize — at the time or at his news conference — for that or for berating the chair umpire or for spending time at a local pub the night before the match.

Rarely does Kyrgios offer regrets for much of anything. Instead, he tends to double down. He is nothing if not fascinating. He is talented, too. And yet it was Nadal who emerged from all of the tumult Thursday at Wimbledon to beat Kyrgios, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3), in a second-round match boasting plenty of dramatics, a dose of animosity and delightful play by both men.

“I’m always willing to go out there and try and put on a show. I know people that bought a ticket today probably had a great day,” said Kyrgios, a 24-year-old Australian who is ranked 43rd. “At times today, I was looking around: This is Wimbledon, playing Rafa. … But I’ll probably wake up tomorrow (and) there will be something negative about it, for sure.”

Top Sports Videos

Kyrgios is capable of being as entertaining and befuddling a player as there is and showed why throughout this 3-hour-plus contest that overshadowed everything else going on around the grass-court Grand Slam tournament on Day 4.

Defending champion Angelique Kerber was upset by Lauren Davis, an American who lost in qualifying but got into the main draw when someone else withdrew. Seven-time champion Serena Williams needed a comeback to win in three sets against an 18-year-old qualifier.

Williams’ partner for mixed doubles, two-time Wimbledon singles winner Andy Murray, won his first-round match in men’s doubles as he returned to the tournament for the first time in two years following two hip operations. Marcos Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open runner-up and a fan favorite, played what he said will be the last match of his career. Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion and ‘17 Wimbledon finalist, lost, too.

And Australian Bernard Tomic was fined his full prize money of $56,500 for not meeting “the required professional standards” in his first-round loss. Tomic, a quarterfinalist in 2011, lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, on Tuesday in a match that lasted only 58 minutes.

None of that really mattered, in the end.

Everything was rendered secondary to Nadal vs. Kyrgios.

Part of that is because a 19-year-old Kyrgios beat then-No. 1 Nadal at the All England Club in 2014.

Part of that is because they traded barbs away from the court recently in a spat that also involved Nadal’s uncle, Toni.

In the leadup to this meeting, Kyrgios joked he didn’t think “me and Rafa could go down to the Dog & Fox and have a beer together,” referring to a nearby bar where Kyrgios was spotted Wednesday night. The 33-year-old Nadal, meanwhile, observed that he was “too old for all this stuff.”

They could hardly be more different, something Kyrgios underlined after he lost despite producing a 58-44 advantage in winners, including 29 aces — one a second serve at a tournament-high 143 mph and a pair he hit with an underarm motion.

These two couldn’t even agree on whether Kyrgios is capable of winning major championships.

Nadal’s take? “With his talent and with his serve, he can win a Grand Slam, of course.”

And Kyrgios’ self-assessment? “I know what I’m capable of. Just depends. I’m a great tennis player, but I don’t do the other stuff. I’m not the most professional guy. I won’t train day-in, day-out. I won’t show up every day. So there’s a lot of things I need to improve on to get to that level that Rafa brings. … But, no, at the moment I don’t think I can contend for a Grand Slam.”

He is ranked 43rd, and hasn’t been past the quarterfinals at a major. But against Nadal, he displayed boundless power, guile, touch and athleticism.

Kyrgios, his shirt collared popped just so, seemed to act at times as if it were more important to look cool than to play well. The between-the-leg shots, the unnecessary leaping backhands and all the rest. On the initial point of the pivotal fourth-set tiebreaker, he jumped high for a showy overhead instead of making a safer putaway. The result? He deposited his shot ball in the net, then rolled his eyes and chucked away a ball. Soon, the match was over.

Much earlier, he had several loud arguments with chair umpire Damien Dumusois, complaining about all sorts of things, including how long Nadal took between points and whether the official was seeking too much attention. During the match, Kyrgios earned a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct after calling Dumusois a “disgrace.” At his news conference, Kyrgios’ insults of choice were “horrendous” and “terrible.”

In the third set, there was that “dangerous” ball — Nadal’s word — he sent toward the Spaniard, who blocked it with his racket at the last second. Perhaps startled, Nadal double-faulted on the next point. But he wound up holding serve, then celebrating like he won the match, leaping and yelling and punching the air. When he eventually did seal the victory, Nadal wagged a finger and shouted and fist-pumped some more.

Asked by a reporter why he didn’t say sorry at the time, Kyrgios replied: “I didn’t hit him. Hit his racket, no? Why would I apologize? I won the point. … I mean, the dude has got how many Slams, how much money in the bank account? I think he can take a ball to the chest, bro.”

Categories: Sports | US-World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.