LONDON — It was the “super salty” blockbuster clash tennis fans around the world wanted to see and Nick Kyrgios and Rafael Nadal duly obliged on Tuesday by setting up a second round showdown at Wimbledon.
When last Friday’s men’s draw set the pair on a collision course, the only fear was that Yuichi Sugita and Jordan Thompson might gatecrash a reunion between the duo who are not exactly considered best buddies on the tour.
As it was, Nadal dispatched the Japanese 6-3 6-1 6-3, while Kyrgios, no stranger to hurling chairs across a court when things don’t go his way, was almost on his best behaviour as he secured a 7-6(4) 3-6 7-6(10) 0-6 6-1 win over his compatriot.
Considering Nadal accused Kyrgios of disrespect after losing to him in Acapulco earlier and the Australian hit back by describing the 18-time Grand Slam champion as being “super salty” in defeat, sparks could fly again when they face off for the seventh time, with their rivalry deadlocked at 3-3.
However, on Tuesday both players refused to get dragged into a war of words.
“Not sure that me and Rafa could go down to the Dog & Fox (pub) and have a beer together… we have a mutual respect but that’s about it,” said Kyrgios, who beat the Spaniard in their only previous meeting at Wimbledon.
“He’s one of the greatest tennis players of all time. I go into that match as an unbelievable underdog.”
As for Nadal, his only words on the subject were: “I’m too old for all that stuff.”
That might be the case but Nadal and his long-time ‘frenemy’ Roger Federer showed that age was no barrier when it came to winning matches.
The Swiss, chasing a record ninth Wimbledon title, was not exactly at his regal best on a day the Duchess of Cambridge had dropped in to cheer him on but that did not stop Federer handing Wimbledon debutant Lloyd Harris a 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 defeat.
The Duchess also surprised punters on the Court 14 when she turned up to watch British wildcard Harriet Dart play American Christina McHale.
Dart ended up being one of five Britons — along with Johanna Konta, Dan Evans, Cameron Norrie and Jay Clarke — to reach the second round on day two of the championships.
Victories for Kyle Edmund and Heather Watson on Monday meant seven home players advanced to the second round for the first time since 2006.
Reaching the last 64 is unlikely to be much cause for celebration for Serena Williams, though, as the American desperately wants to hoist the Venus Rosewater Dish for an eighth time to finally win a record-equalling 24th major.
But her 6-2 7-5 win over Italian qualifier Giulia Gatto-Monticone certainly put her in a good mood.
It was later confirmed that Williams will increase her workload after hooking up with Briton’s Andy Murray in the mixed doubles to form the ultimate Wimbledon super-couple — with the pair jointly owning 26 singles Grand Slam titles.
“If you guys really want it… all right, done,” Williams had teased reporters.
Murray has limited his participation at Wimbledon to the doubles competitions as he attempts to test his fitness levels after undergoing hip surgery in January.
Maria Sharapova’s Wimbledon ended in the first round for the second straight year as the 2004 champion retired with an arm injury while trailing France’s Pauline Parmentier 4-6 7-6(4) 5-0.
Another former champion, Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, was beaten 6-4 6-4 by Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia.
A day after Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev lost their chance to end the Nadal-Federer-Novak Djokovic stranglehold on men’s tennis, Austria’s French Open runner-up Dominic Thiem continued the Next-Gen exodus as he was humbled 6-7(4) 7-6(1) 6-3 6-0 by American Sam Querrey. — Reuters