The Nick Kyrgios Image That Defies Everything You Expected
A lot of things happened in this epic match that we DID expect.
There was the Nick Kyrgios war with the umpire, which was always as inevitable as strawberries and cream being devoured in the crowd, and which went, in part, like this:
"So much power up there, huh? Wow, look at you. Look at you! So much power up there. Wow. So much power, feels good. Feels good for you, huh? Wow. So much power. Feel good to be up there, huh? Who doesn’t like to be up there?"
There was the Kyrgios underarm serve (which you can watch in the video player above), which was always as likely as the Wimbledon grass being green.
But as Rafael Nadal beat the 24-year-old Canberran 6-3 3-6 7-6 7-6 in their second round encounter, one thing was surprising.
The respect at the end of the match.
Eighteen-time Grand Slam winner Nadal and zero-time Grand Slam winner Kyrgios have been at war in recent times. The Aussie called the Spaniard "super salty" in a podcast in May. It was not intended with love.
But after a match which was notable for its quality of tennis more than anything else, the two players showed respect at the net at the conclusion.
Few expected this.
But the handshake, when it came, had a distinct lack of "saltiness".
"He's a tough opponent," Nadal later told the BBC.
"When he wants to compete, he's one of the toughest opponents you can face."
And so it was last night. And Nadal and indeed the whole tennis-loving world could not help but respect him for it.
"I know what I’m capable of. I’m a great tennis player, but I don’t do the other stuff," Kyrgios said in the post-match press conference when asked whether his excellence performance was a reminder of his potential to win Slams.
“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."
Yep, you read that right. Nick Kyrgios just admitted he doesn't have what it takes to reach the top due to a lack of attitude. Call him an underachiever if you must. But never say he lacks self-awareness.
Interestingly, Nadal had lost all of his five previous tie-breakers against Kyrgios. That changed last night as he closed out the final two sets 7-6 7-6.
KYRGIOS vs NADAL. THE STATS AFTER LAST NIGHT'S MATCH
Head to head: Now 4-3 to Nadal
Weight: They're both listed at 85 kg, but probably shed a kilo or two after that tough tussle!
Kyrgios lifetime record: Won 143, lost 87
Nadal lifetime record: Won 952, lost 195
Kyrgios lifetime prizemoney: $7.3 million
Nadal lifetime prizemoney: $109.5 million