His grudge match of the year against Rafael Nadal holds no fears for Nick Kyrgios, who candidly admits there’s no love lost between the two.
“Not sure that me and Rafa could go down to the Dog & Fox and have a beer together,” Kyrgios said after the two verbal sparring partners confirmed their box-office Wimbledon showdown with contrasting first-round wins on day two.
The Dog & Fox pub was front and centre in the lead-up to the match, with reports that Kyrgios was there past 11pm on the night before his match against Nadal.
A reliable source has confirmed to me that one Nicholas Kyrgios arrived back home safe and well before turning into a pumpkin and will present in a fit and proper manner at the All England Club on Thursday to face Rafael Nadal. https://t.co/RmXJ0EIBit
— Darren Walton (@DarrenWalton369) July 3, 2019
“I don’t know him very well. We have a mutual respect, but that’s about it,” continued Kyrgios on his testy relationship with Nadal.
“That’s just how it is. I get along with people, some people I don’t get along with.”
Kyrgios and Nadal certainly haven’t been getting along in 2019.
Kyrgios branded Nadal “super salty” in an explosive podcast after the Spaniard took exception to being under-armed during a loss to the unpredictable Australian in Acapulco.
— Dima (@panicmode_on) July 2, 2019
Kyrgios then dubbed Nadal’s uncle Toni “an idiot” after being accused of being uneducated and lacking respect for his tour rivals.
“I can’t wait. As soon as the draw came out, I was super happy that I saw him in my section,” Kyrgios said after denying fellow Australian Jordan Thompson 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 7-6 (12-10) 0-6 6-1 to book his latest confrontation with Nadal.
“When you’re a kid, you want to play the best players in the world on, I think it’s the best court in the world.
“This is something that I can’t take for granted. There’s no guarantee I’m going to be here again in this position. Could have an injury or something like that.
“I’m going to grasp it with both hands, go out there, give it my best shot.”
While Kyrgios needed almost three and a half hours to battle past Thompson in five sets, Nadal barely raised a sweat in swatting aside Japanese qualifier Yuichi Sugita for the loss of only seven games.
As well as conquering Nadal in Mexico, Kyrgios famously cut the 18-times grand slam champion down to size on Wimbledon’s centre court as a teenager on debut at Wimbledon in 2014.
He said he’d draw on that win as inspiration on Thursday.
“I’ve looked back on that moment. That’s never going to leave my tennis career. It was one of the most special moments I’ve ever had,” Kyrgios said.
“He’s one of the greatest tennis players of all time. I go into that match as an unbelievable underdog. I know if I play the right type of tennis, I can have success against him.
“I have to come with the right attitude, I have to be willing to fight. If not, it’s going to be butter for him.”
Having split all six meetings with Kyrgios, Nadal is suitably wary.
“My thoughts are very clear: I play against a top talent player, a very dangerous player when he wants to play tennis,” said the world No.2.
“Normally against the best players, he wants to play tennis. When that happens, he’s a very dangerous opponent.
“Of course, like second round is a super tough one. I know that. I need to be at my 100 per cent. I’m going to fight for it.”
Nick Kyrgios plays Rafael Nadal on centre court at Wimbledon from 1.15am on Friday (July 5, AEST). More details, including live scores, here.