Here is Russell Jackson’s match report from Melbourne.
That was some match. The first half was high quality, creative and delightful. The second half was riddled with mental and physical doubts from both players. Despite how patchy the final 45 minutes were, Kyrgios is clearly an anxious match-up for Nadal and overcoming those nerves will surely power Nadal as he faces an in-form Thiem.
As for Kyrgios, there is no doubt that he left everything out on the court both tonight and throughout the tournament. He will depart the Australian tennis summer with a so much more goodwill than when the season began. The big question remains what his game and his career looks like when he is playing tennis thousands away from home and he doesn’t really want to be there.
Rafael Nadal’s comments about Nicholas Hilmy Kyrgios were quite pointed:
Well, what can I say about Nick? When he is playing today with his positive attitude, he brings a lot fo positive things to our sport. So I encouraging him to keep working like this because he is one of the highest talents that we have on our tour and I like the Nick Kyrgios during the whole of this tournament.
Nadal on the low margins when facing Kyrgios and his fourth set wobble:
Have been a very tough match. Since in the beginning, I was a little bit under control. But, you know, against Nick, you are never under control because if you have a mistake, like I had in the second set with one serve of mine, then he has the break and it’s so difficult to break him again.
Happened again in the fourth. He played a good game, but I played a scary game at 5-4! But that’s part of the sport. Accept that, and then I try to recover mentally and try to recover mentally for 6-5 and the end of the tiebreak.
Kontaveit, Halep, Muguruza and Pavlyuchenkova are all into the women’s quarters.
Nadal was asked by John McEnroe about the passing of Kobe Bryant:
What can I say? I wake up this morning with this terrible news. Super sad. He has been one of the greatest sportsman in the history, so he just deserves a round of big applause.
I didn’t spend time with him but I met him. I have a very close friend that was playing with him for a long time, Pau Gasol, and he always told me that his spirit of overcoming, his spirit of hard work. He always wanted more, he always wanted to increase his level. He’s always been a true inspiration for the world of sport and for a lot of kids, so yeah it’s one of those days that you want to forget. But Kobe Bryant will be in our heart and our minds for the rest of our lives.
Rafael Nadal defeats Nick Kyrgios 6-3 3-6 7-6(6) 7-6(4) to reach the quarter-finals
After a huge wobble against a tired Kyrgios, the Spaniard recovers to reach the quarterfinal. will face Dominic Thiem.
Updated at 12.33pm GMT
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 7-6(6) 6-6 (*5-4) Nick Kyrgios: After a long series of big serving and quick service points, the first mini-break goes to Nadal at 5-3, thanks to a failed drop shot from Kyrgios. Kyrgios pulled Nadal back to 5-4 but the Spaniard stands two service points from victory.
Updated at 11.54am GMT
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 7-6(6) 6-6 Nick Kyrgios: Another tiebreak will decide set 4. Nadal returned to his serving of old in that last game, flitting through an easy love hold to level the set. If only he could have served like that when it really mattered, no?
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 7-6(6) *5-6 Nick Kyrgios: This sport plays tricks with your mind. Despite breaking back, Kyrgios was still suffering and he immediately haemorrhaged a flurry of tired errors to fall down 15-40. On the first break point, Nadal missed a bad return but then Kyrgios produced a brilliant dropshot on the second, finishing the point with a backhand winner. At deuce, Kyrgios landed a big unreturned first serve and a nervy backhand error from a struggling Nadal handed over the game.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 7-6(6) 5-5* Nick Kyrgios: Astoundingly, Kyrgios breaks back! The Australian forced Nadal to deal with the tension of serving out the match, and the Spaniard clearly blinked. He opened the game with a missed forehand, he double faulted at 15-30 and he missed first serves throughout. Kyrgios stepped in on the second break point and crushed his forehand until the ball didn’t come back. A great effort.
Updated at 11.46am GMT
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 7-6(6) *5-4 Nick Kyrgios: Kyrgios holds to 30 and Nadal will serve for the match.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 7-6(6) 5-3* Nick Kyrgios: Kyrgios skipped to the baseline and he really tried to bring some intensity to the opening point. He crushed three forehands, he thought he had at least dragged Nadal wide and then he watched as Nadal chased down the third forehand and flicked a sickening angled backhand winner in response. Needless to say, Nadal held serve.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 7-6(6) *4-3 Nick Kyrgios: After Nadal’s 9th(!) love hold of the day, Kyrgios digs out another hold from deuce to keep the set at a fourth break. He looks an exhausted, broken figure and he spent the change of ends muttering at nobody in particular, but the Aussie is still there.
Alexander Zverev battered Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4 to end his friend’s 15 match winning streak with ease.
Angelique Kerber played a great match but was edged out 7-6(5) 6-7(4) 6-2 by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 7-6(6) *3-2 Nick Kyrgios: A good effort from Kyrgios there to find a couple of big serves, utter a quiet cheer of ‘c’mon’, force a Nadal error and at least keep himself in the match.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 7-6(6) 3-1* Nick Kyrgios: As Kyrgios’ energy levels wane, Nadal’s just seemed to ascend to another level. He held with a wicked second serve ace (Kyrgios still had enough energy to pronounce it a “hell of a serve”) at 30-0 and then an absurd running forehand down the line winner. Nadal has now won 12 points in a row. No mercy.
Updated at 11.11am GMT
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 7-6(6) *2-1 Nick Kyrgios: The question of Kyrgios’ condition has been answered quite quickly. His footwork is kaputt and he is slapping tired groundstrokes. After two forehand errors, Kyrgios handed over the break to love with a double fault.
That was a great set of tennis and an even more astonishing climax. Nothing sums up Rafael Nadal quite like the point at *6-6 in the tiebreak. After double faulting on set point and facing the possibility of Kyrgios serving for the tiebreak, many players would have crumbled. Nadal simply reset and the second he had the opportunity to attack his forehand down-the-line, he went for the shot without a hint of doubt. He does this so often yet seeing him work and thrive under suffocating pressure is never any less impressive.
Kyrgios didn’t do too much wrong until those final points. Let’s see what he still has in the tank.
Updated at 11.33am GMT
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 7-6(6) Nick Kyrgios: Nadal stands one set away! Even after double faulting on set point, Nadal simply reset and refused to back down. A brilliant forehand down the line followed by an awkward volley winner brought him another set point. A forehand into the net from Kyrgios handed him the set.
Updated at 10.52am GMT
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 6-6 (*6-6) Nick Kyrgios: My word. Kyrgios dragged himself back to 5-5 only attempt a 117mph second serve and double fault. On his set point, Nadal responded with his own double fault. Everyone is nervous!
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 6-6 (*4-3) Nick Kyrgios: Nadal leads after the break. Kyrgios missed a backhand passing shot at 2-1 and totalled his racquet. Nadal then hooked a great forehand crosscourt to lead 4-1. Nadal missed a loose forehand at for 4-2 and Kyrgios pegged Nadal back to 4-3 with a forehand winner.
Updated at 11.35am GMT
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 6-6 Nick Kyrgios: A tiebreak will decide this wonderful third set. This time, it was Kyrgios’ turn to play the pressure points exceptionally. The Aussie generated three game points from his 40-30 lead, but each time he self-sabotaged with an unforced error. On the fourth game point, he switched things up with a serve and volley, forcing a Nadal return error.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 6-5* Nick Kyrgios: The stress is rising and it’s fair to say that Nick Kyrgios is no longer having fun. After a correct challenge with Nadal leading 30-15, the Australian began to mouth off at umpire James Keothavong as he criticised the officiating. As Kyrgios seethed, Nadal produced a big serve to complete an uncomplicated service hold. A tiebreak looms.
Updated at 10.50am GMT
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 5-5* Nick Kyrgios: This time, it was Kyrgios’ turn to face a nerve-wracking point on his serve at 30-30. He shrugged off any nerves and crushed two unreturned serves to hold.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 5-4* Nick Kyrgios: Incredible. Nadal survives the toughest hold of the set. Kyrgios dragged Nadal back to deuce from 40-15 and then he beautifully opened up the court and before missing an easy forehand.
After scuppering a third break point, Kyrgios once had Nadal on the ropes at deuce. This time, Nadal desperately defended every last shot and when Kyrgios unloaded on a forehand down the line on the run, he flipped the point with an incredible crosscourt forehand in response, ending the point in one attacking blow. On his fourth game point, Nadal finally held to move to within a game of the set.
Nadal had lost 4 points on serve all set. He just lost 4 in one game. The pressure is rising.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 *4-4 Nick Kyrgios: That was some hold from Nick Kyrgios. At 15-0, Kyrgios attempted an underarm serve that landed in the net. Nadal was all over the following second serve, ending the point with a violent forehand down the line winner and then riding the momentum to 30-40.
Down break point and after a heavy-handed drop volley on the previous point, Kyrgios scuppered the danger with an absurd, gorgeous dropshot off his serve. From deuce, two huge serves. Danger averted.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 4-3* Nick Kyrgios: At the moment, Nick Kyrgios is enjoying this match as much as the fans who paid to watch. As Nadal drilled a 141kmh backhand passing shot past him before holding to 15 with a serve and forehand combo, he was laughing. Both players are playing extremely well now and showing the breadth of their hand skills.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 3-2* Nick Kyrgios: After a series of quick holds, Nadal inched ahead with another love hold. At 40-0 and on a short ball, Kyrgios feigned to hammer the ball away before throwing in a drop shot. Nadal chased it down and responded with a slick, angled no-look passing shot winner. Kyrgios was laughing as he returned to his chair, Nadal was not.
Updated at 10.03am GMT
Let’s have a score update:
Over on Margaret Court Arena, Angelique Kerber and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are in the midst of a ridiculous, high quality slugfest. Kerber just saved three set points, the final saved with a sweeping forehand combination, to push them into a second set tiebreak. Pavlyuchenkova has hit 52 winners, 28 unforced errors and she’s losing.
On Melbourne Arena, Alexander Zverev is well on his way to reaching the quarters without dropping a set. He leads Andrey Rublev 6-4 *4-3.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 *1-1 Nick Kyrgios: The pair opened with two holds, but the holds could not have been more different. While Nadal’s hold was to love, Kyrgios watched a Nadal backhand down the line passing shot fly past him for 0-30. How did Kyrgios respond to the 0-30 deficit? He crushed a forehand down the line winner at 0-30, then reeled off three unreturned serves in succession to hold.
Updated at 9.52am GMT
Alexander Zverev is having a lovely time on Melbourne Arena. He now leads Andrey Rublev 6-4 *1-0 with a break in the second set.
Updated at 9.43am GMT
According to Mats Wilander on Eurosport, a woman in the crowd kept on calling Nadal’s name between points. Kyrgios’ response? “He’s married”
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-6 Nick Kyrgios: Kyrgios levels! As Nadal tookhis final stand in the second set, the game opened with long, gruelling rallies. Nadal dumped a backhand into the net at 15-15, but then he responded at 30-15 by sweeping into the net behind a huge backhand down the line.
Kyrgios shook off the pressure without thinking twice, slamming down two aces in a row to hold and take the set. Game on.
Updated at 10.48am GMT
Rafael Nadal 6-3 3-5* Nick Kyrgios: As expected, Nadal has recovered from the earlier blip and he sealed another hold with a bread-and-butter serve and forehand combination. Kyrgios will attempt to serve out the set.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 *2-5 Nick Kyrgios: The tennis has become obscenely good here. Kyrgios opened with a sickly sweet angled drop volley and then he immediately returned to the net and dispatched another lovely drop volley. Kyrgios closed off the hold to love with a final huge forehand, backed up with another pointedly loud and long grunt. He stands one game from levelling the match at one set all.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 2-4* Nick Kyrgios: Nadal responds with a quick, businesslike love hold and a running forehand winner so good that it had Kyrgios giggling like a child. This is getting fun.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 *1-4 Nick Kyrgios: Absolutely no problems for Kyrgios in this service game. If there was any doubt that the momentum had shifted, he made it clear by opening the game with successive aces and punctuating each with loud, drawn out grunts. Nadal dumped a backhand long on the final point to hand Kyrgios a hopeful love hold.
Updated at 10.50am GMT
Rafael Nadal 6-3 1-3* Nick Kyrgios: Out of nowhere, Nick Kyrgios breaks! Kyrgios was finally rewarded for his perseverance through his opening service game as Nadal dumped a forehand into the net at 15-15 and then a backhand into the net at 30-30. The rallies are long, gruelling and tactical in these slow conditions and after one such exchange, the Aussie flicked an incredible running passing shot winner past a seething Nadal.
On Margaret Court Arena, Angelique Kerber has taken the first set 7-6(5) against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and the score is 2-2 in the second set. Pavluchenkova led 5-2 and played a great set, but the 2016 champion seems to be finding her feet and, most importantly, her grit.
Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev are just starting on Melbourne Arena. Rublev leads 2-1 on serve.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 *1-2 Nick Kyrgios: Kyrgios is looking a lot happier than he was 10 minutes ago. A much better hold from the Aussie; he slammed down his 9th ace of the day and dismounted with a drop shot-lob combination, leaping into the air as it landed in. After tossing a bit of abuse towards his camp, he is now laughing and joking with them.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 1-1* Nick Kyrgios: After the endless drama on Kyrgios’ serve, Nadal marches through a hold to 15, sealed with an ace down the T. Easy.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 *0-1 Nick Kyrgios: Goodness, that was tough. Kyrgios opened up the second set with his back to the wall, Nadal desperate to snatch a break to open the set. Kyrgios immediately fell down double break point before pegging Nadal back to deuce by winning long rally that included a Kyrgios tweener. After a long tug of war, Kyrgios found his magic hands and two beautiful forehand dropshots before closing with an ace. The Aussie could not afford to lose that game.
After their win, Coco Gauff and Caty McNally dedicated their celebration to Kobe.
Rafael Nadal 6-3 Nick Kyrgios: The world number one takes the first set. Quite a routine set for the Spaniard – he took advantage of one weak service game from the Australian and easily held onto his serve. These slow conditions and aren’t helping Kyrgios, but neither is the opponent across the net.
Rafael Nadal *5-3 Nick Kyrgios: After a couple of quick holds from both, Nadal looked to make another move by reaching 15-30 on Kyrgios’ serve. This time, Kyrgios found two important first serves to move up 40-30 before playing a decent drop volley. Nadal chased down the dropshot and sent his response wide, handing Kyrgios another hold. The world number one will serve for the set.
Updated at 10.46am GMT
You thought the Coco Gauff story was over for another tournament? Think again. 15 year-old Gauff and 18 year old Caty McNally just recovered from a set and break down to defeat the 10th seeds in doubles, Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara, 4-6 7-5 6-3 to reach the first slam quarterfinal of their careers. They will face second seeds Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic.
Updated at 8.48am GMT
Rafael Nadal 4-1* Nick Kyrgios: Nadal consolidates the break fairly well. The Spaniard opened his service game on fire, with a searing backhand crosscourt winner followed by a forehand down-the-line winner. Kyrgios showed some encouraging signs by pegging him back to 30-30 by grinding through a couple of physical points and forcing a Nadal error. At 30-30, Nadal found two great unreturned first serves to seal the hold.
Here are Nadal’s comments on Kyrgios from Saturday. Nadal was asked if he likes the Australian:
I don’t know him personally, honestly, to have a clear opinion. Yeah, my answer is better to…
It’s clear, of course, that when he does stuff that in my opinion is not good, I don’t like. When he plays good tennis and he shows passion for this game, he is a positive player for our tour, and I want my tour bigger, not smaller. So the players who make the tour bigger are important for the tour.
When he’s ready to play his best tennis and play with passion, is one of these guys. When he’s doing the other stuff, of course I don’t like.
Rafael Nadal *3-1 Nick Kyrgios: Nadal breaks first. The good news for Kyrgios is that he slammed down two aces and a service winner to lead 40-15, but otherwise that was a dire service game.
From 40-15 up, he dumped two consecutive drop shots into the net. After an ace to generate a third game point, he missed two easy backhands in a row. On the third deuce, he missed an easy open court backhand. He then lost his serve with a backhand well long. A bit of a mess. “F*ck, man,” he says.
Rafael Nadal 2-1* Nick Kyrgios. This time, a quick love hold from Nadal to retain his early lead. Some great serving from the world number one to reach 40-0 and then he closed it off with a moment of pure class, hooking a gorgeous angled forehand for a clean winner while on the run.
Rafael Nadal *1-1 Nick Kyrgios. A quick hold for Kyrgios to open his account. Nadal very quickly showed that he will be going after his forehand whenever he can; at 30-15 he crushed an inside out forehand that just skidded out. Kyrgios sealed his first hold of the day with a service winner. There will be many more.
Rafael Nadal 1-0* Nick Kyrgios: The world number one seals his opening hold, but it wasn’t easy. Nadal double faulted twice in the game, including at 40-30 to bring them back to deuce. From deuce, he found a big serve and then forced a Kyrgios error with a firm crosscourt backhand to hold.
There is no love lost between these two and Kyrgios has always been very happy to discuss that. Here are Kyrgios’ comments on Nadal during his wide-ranging interview with Ben Rothenberg on the No Challenges Remaining podcast last year.
“He’s my polar opposite. Literally my polar opposite. And he’s super salty.
“When he wins it’s fine, he won’t say anything bad, he’ll credit the opponent – ‘he competed well today, he’s a great player’ – but then as soon as I beat him, it’s just like ‘he has no respect for me, my fans and no respect to the game’. I’m like ‘what are you talking about? I literally played this way that I beat you the other previous times and nothing changed’.
“It’s not a good look. And then Uncle Toni [Nadal’s coach] came out saying ‘he lacks education’. I’m like ‘I did 12 years at school, you idiot. I’m very educated. I understand that you’re upset I beat your family again.”
The players are on-court. Kyrgios is a huge NBA fan and he unsurprisingly warmed up wearing Kobe Bryant’s laker jersey. As he sat down in his chair, Kyrgios was crying.
Updated at 9.06am GMT
So, where will this match be won? Rafael Nadal narrowly leads the head to head 4-3 with the pair splitting their matches in 2019. Kyrgios famously toppled Nadal in Acapulco, with the Aussie playing an underarm serve and complaining about Nadal taking his time between points. Nadal followed up a few months later with a statement win at Wimbledon. Ever since Kyrgios burst onto the scene at Wimbledon in 2014, shocking Nadal in four stunning sets in the fourth round, this has been one of the truly gripping matchups of the past 6 years.
There is no big match player like Nick Kyrgios. On any given day against a lowly ranked opponent, he could find himself drawn into endless rallies but he almost always elevates his game against the elite. His first priority will be to take care of his service games, but he will also be looking to keep points as short as he possibly can. He will flatten out his groundstrokes and thump winners off both wings and he will throw in a constant variety of drop shots and net forays to keep Nadal off balance.
For Nadal, serving well will also be key and so it’s helpful that he is in the serving form of his life. He will also look to slip into the net when he can and he spend a lot of time working on Kyrgios’ backhand and moving him side-to-side when he can. He will certainly look to be aggressive and open up his forehand down the line, but he will also force Kyrgios to be perfect, to always find the huge forehand winner or perfect dropshot on the biggest points. If Kyrgios is not perfect, he will lose.
Updated at 8.25am GMT
Stan Wawrinka upsets 4th seed Daniil Medvedev 6-2 2-6 4-6 7-6(2) 6-2
A solid upset to start the morning as Stan Wawrinka takes out US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev. A result like this has been coming for the three-time slam champion in recent months. He has played well for a while now but he just hasn’t quite been able to reach his top level over 5 sets against the very best. He did today.
Updated at 10.37am GMT
As we wait for the night session to begin, one match is reaching its dramatic conclusion. 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka has rediscovered some vintage form against 4th seed Daniil Medvedev and he currently leads Medvedev by a double break in the fifth set at *5-2. He is on the brink of perhaps his best win since he underwent knee surgery in 2017.
Updated at 7.36am GMT
Hello! Welcome to day 8 of our Australian Open coverage as the first half of fourth round action comes to an end. Tonight’s session will feature three singles matches: On Melbourne Arena, 22 year-olds Alexander Zverev and Andrey Medvedev will fight to reach the quarters. Rublev has been the in-form player this year and he is currently on a 15 match winning streak having won two tournaments in the first two weeks of the year. On Margaret Court Arena, 2016 champion Angelique Kerber will attempt to return to the quarterfinals when she faces last year’s quarterfinalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who scuppered Karolina Pliskova in the third round.
But most eyes will be on Rod Laver Arena as Nick Kyrgios takes on Rafael Nadal in front of his home crowd for the first time. The world number one has mostly coasted through the tournament playing high quality tennis and he still hasn’t dropped a set. Kyrgios arrives in the third Australian Open fourth round with the crowd firmly behind him. He has played well and fought even harder, edging out a 5th set tiebreak win over 16th seed Kharen Khachanov to reach the fourth round. The question is how his body has recovered after the first four and a half hour battle of his career, and if he has recovered, whether it even that be enough to topple the in-form world number one.
Updated at 7.30am GMT
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