Rafael Nadal accused Nick Kyrgios of a lack of respect on Wednesday night, after losing a tight and testy match in which Kyrgios tried to catch him out with an underarm serve.
"He is a player who has enormous talent," said Nadal, after Kyrgios had edged this three-hour epic in Acapulco by a 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 scoreline. "He could win grand slams and fight the top positions of the ranking, but there is a reason why he is where he is [at a world ranking of No. 72]. He lacks respect for the public, the rival and towards himself."
This was a bizarre encounter which had seemed to be going Nadal’s way when he claimed the first set. Kyrgios then called the trainer on and said that, although he felt sick, he would continue to play for fear that the media would “blow it up”.
Despite earning just a single break point in the match, Kyrgios held on to his own serve and eventually triumphed in dramatic style, saving three match points before throwing himself to the ground in celebration at his victory – the third he has claimed over Nadal in six meetings. The two men shook hands abruptly and without warmth, then Kyrgios put his finger behind his ear in taunting fashion as boos rang out around the stadium.
Afterwards, the debate on social media was feverish. Kyrgios posted a photograph on Instagram with the caption “Don’t doubt yourself, there are plenty of people who will do that for you. I can smell the blood when I play this dude.”
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 28, 2019
An extensive debate also developed around the rights and wrongs of the underarm serve that Kyrgios hit as a surprise tactic early in the deciding set, even though the serve actually landed a foot or so long and thus did not count. Underarm serves are rarely spotted in professional tennis, and are seen by many as a sneaky ploy.
When Nadal’s criticisms were put to Kyrgios after the match, he replied “He doesn't know anything about me so I'm not going to listen at all … He's very slow in between points. The rule in the book says you have to play at the speed of the server, but Rafa has his speed every time, so I’m not going to comment on him.”
Meanwhile the Lawn Tennis Association confirmed on Thursday that the Copper Box Arena at London’s Olympic Park will host the Fed Cup tie between Great Britain and Kazakhstan on the weekend of April 20 and 21.
In Dubai, Roger Federer beat Marton Fucsovics 7-6, 6-4 to move into the semi-finals. Federer, who received an unusual code violation for audible obscenity, now stands just two wins away from his 100th ATP title.