Rafael Nadal was up near the Centre Court net when Nick Kyrgios smacked a booming forehand directly at the guy’s midsection — right at him, on purpose — and earned a lengthy staredown in return.
Kyrgios didn’t apologize, at the time or at his news conference — for that or for berating the chair umpire or for spending time at a local pub the night before the match.
Rarely does Kyrgios offer regrets, for much of anything. Instead, he tends to double down. He is nothing if not fascinating. He is talented, too. And yet it was Nadal who emerged from all of the tumult Thursday at Wimbledon to beat Kyrgios 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) in a second-round match boasting plenty of dramatics, a dose of animosity and delightful play by both men.
“I’m always willing to go out there and try and put on a show. I know people that bought a ticket today probably had a great day,” said Kyrgios, a 24-year-old Australian who is ranked 43rd. “At times today, I was looking around: This is Wimbledon, playing Rafa. … But I’ll probably wake up tomorrow (and) there will be something negative about it, for sure.”
Kyrgios is capable of being as entertaining and befuddling a player as there is and showed why throughout this 3-hour-plus contest that overshadowed everything else going on around the grass-court Grand Slam tournament on Day 4.
WATCH | Nadal dispatches Kyrgios:
Nick Kyrgios kept things interesting in his four-set loss to Rafael Nadal on Thursday. 1:49
In the leadup to this meeting, Kyrgios joked that he didn’t think “me and Rafa could go down to the Dog & Fox and have a beer together,” referring to a nearby bar where Kyrgios was spotted Wednesday night. The 33-year-old Nadal, meanwhile, observed that he was “too old for all this stuff.”
In the third set, there was that “dangerous” ball — Nadal’s word — he sent toward the Spaniard, who blocked it with his racket at the last second. Perhaps startled, Nadal double-faulted on the next point. But he wound up holding serve, then celebrating like he’d won the match, leaping and yelling and punching the air. When he eventually did seal the victory, Nadal wagged a finger and shouted and fist-pumped some more.
Asked by a reporter why he didn’t say sorry at the time, Kyrgios replied: “I didn’t hit him. Hit his racket, no? Why would I apologize? I won the point. … I mean, the dude has got how many Slams, how much money in the bank account? I think he can take a ball to the chest, bro.”
Defending champ Kerber goes down
Eight-time men’s champion Roger Federer and seven-time women’s champion Serena Williams moved into the third round at Wimbledon.
Defending women’s champion Angelique Kerber went out in the second.
Federer advanced as expected on Thursday, beating wild-card entry Jay Clarke 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-2 on No. 1 Court. Williams had a bit of a tougher time at the same stadium, needing to come back to beat Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.
WATCH | Federer cruises past Clarke:
Roger Federer defeated British opponent Jay Clarke 6-1, 7-6, 6-2 in straight sets at Wimbledon. 1:21
But unseeded American Lauren Davis pulled off the unexpected, defeating Kerber 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 on No. 2 Court.
“I told myself you’re strong, you can do it, you belong here,” said Davis, who only entered the tournament as a lucky loser.
Kerber beat Williams in last year’s final. Federer won his eighth title at the All England Club in 2017 and was eliminated in the quarterfinals last year.
WATCH | Kerber upset by unseeded Lauren Davis:
After entering the main draw as a lucky loser, American Lauren Davis stunned defending Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. 1:08
Despite his pedigree at Wimbledon, Federer played his British opponent on the second biggest court on the grounds instead of his usual spot on Centre Court.
“I really enjoyed myself on Court 1 today with the roof,” Federer said. “I couldn’t really tell if it was Centre Court or Court 1, actually.”
Serena comes back to win
Williams had to come from a set down to stay on course for an eighth Wimbledon title.
Williams was broken twice in the opening set but recovered to beat Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 and move into the third round.
With good friend Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, watching from the stands at No. 1 Court, Williams had a chance to serve out the match at 5-2 in the third but was broken. She made no mistakes on her second attempt, however, converting her first match point with an ace.
WATCH | Serena Williams wins 2nd-round match at Wimbledon:
Serena Williams battled back from being down a set to defeat Kaja Juvan 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 to advance at Wimbledon. 0:45
Williams improved to 23-0 against qualifiers at Grand Slam tournaments, having dropped only two sets against them in previous matches.
Juvan was making her Wimbledon debut. She lost in the first round of the French Open in May in her only previous Grand Slam appearance.
Barty cruises into 3rd round
If the pressure is getting to Ash Barty at Wimbledon, she’s doing a great job of hiding it.
The top-ranked Australian came into the grass-court Grand Slam tournament after winning the French Open and a Wimbledon warm-up event in Birmingham. And she’s now won two in a row at the All England Club to reach the third round and stretch her winning streak to 14 straight.
Barty beat Alison Van Uytvanck 6-1, 6-3, needing only 55 minutes on No. 2 Court to advance. And it could have been even quicker but she failed to serve out the match at 5-2 in the second set — the only time she was broken.
“Pretty sharp right from the start,” the top-seeded Barty said. “I was able to implement what I wanted to right away and put the pressure straight back on her.”
Barty is playing her first tournament as No. 1 but has never been past the third round at Wimbledon. She will next face Harriet Dart, a British wild-card entry making her second appearance at Wimbledon.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, No. 9 Sloane Stephens and No. 15 Wang Qiang also advanced to third round. Kvitova beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-2, Stephens defeated Wang Yafan 6-0, 6-2, and Wang ousted Tamara Zidansek 6-1, 6-2.
Sam Querrey, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2017, reached the third round in the men’s draw. The unseeded American defeated Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.
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