Nick Kyrgios started with a bang as he took Rafael Nadal to task at Indian Wells, but nothing ever comes easy from the Spaniard.
Nick Kyrgios’ temper tantrums overshadowed the first set of his quarter-final grudge match against Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells before he came back to send the match into a decider.
Kyrgios peeled off some scintillating ground strokes and broke early in the opening set, letting out a loud roar as he hit his stride.
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An underarm tweener serve — similar to the one he pulled off at this year’s Australian Open — didn’t quite work for Kyrgios this time, as Nadal responded with a forehand winner, but everything else the 26-year-old was doing paid off as he maintained his break advantage at 5-3.
Nadal held for 4-5 then pulled back a break of his own, an outrageous forehand helping him hit 5-5.
Tennis reporter Christopher Clarey tweeted: “Kyrgios serves for the 1st set. 30-30, Nadal hits an extraterrestrial forehand return deep off a 143 mile-per-hour (230km/h) first serve, then wins the point. Gets his first break point of the set and … converts.”
Kyrgios was seen complaining to his team that Nadal “is so lucky” as the 21-time grand slam champion stayed in the hunt for the opening set.
Kyrgios revved up the crowd when he won a crucial point in the next game as he made Nadal work for absolutely everything before the veteran held serve and edged ahead 6-5.
From here, the world No. 132 started to lose the plot, smashing a racquet and receiving a code violation — before offering his damaged equipment to a boy in the crowd.
Down 15-30, Kyrgios erupted verbally, letting everyone in the crowd know how unhappy he was with the change in direction the match had taken. But still he held on to send the set to a tiebreak.
Nadal was ruthless though, zipping to a 5-0 lead as Kyrgios’ temper got the better of him, repeatedly complaining throughout the breaker and having a go at someone in his player’s box.
At 0-6 Kyrgios received a point penalty for another code violation — because of an audible obscenity — to end the set in anti-climactic fashion.
“Nothing for him? Kyrgios was heard asking chair umpire Carlos Bernardes when he sat back down. “Why do you do that? Is that acceptable though?”
Kyrgios accused Bernardes of not controlling the crowd.
“It’s bulls***, man,” he said. “The crowd can’t scream things out.
“You see how it affects players bro.
“You guys do a terrible job with that. You don’t protect the players from any of that stuff.”
At the start of the second set a member of the crowd did cop it from Bernardes for his unruly behaviour.
“Ten thousand people who want to watch tennis here and you are the only one screaming like crazy,” the umpire told the spectator as he called for quiet.
But nobody could drown out Kyrgios’ self-admonishment. “What am I doing?!” he yelled during the second game of the second set, as the match continued to slip away.
However, Kyrgios started to find some calm and the tide turned. He went up 4-3 when he trolled Nadal by acing him with an underarm serve the Spaniard had no chance of reaching because he was so far back from the baseline.
Kyrgios embraced the momentum shift and secured a break then closed out the second set 7-5 to send the match to a decider, roaring loudly and encouraging the crowd to fire up in support.
He maintained the rage in the third set but missed a golden opportunity to break early as Nadal struggled on serve.
After being broken to go down 3-4 in the third set, Kyrgios again blew his lid and let rip at Bernardes for not keeping the crowd quiet, especially when yelling out between first and second serves.
“How long are you going to let that s**t go on for? How long? How long? How long, bro? How long?” Kyrgios yelled.
“If you did something about it before, maybe it wouldn’t have happened.
“It happens again and again — and look at the f***ing score! Look at the score!
“It’s your job to control that, no one else’s
“It’ll keep happening over and over and over again. Say something!”
Bernardes defended himself, saying he had told the crowd before to keep quiet.