Nadal condemns ‘dangerous’ Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios said he admired Rafael Nadal's relentlessness on the court after the pair's Wimbledon epic, but that admiration doesn't flow both ways.
After Nadal defeated Kyrgios 6-3 3-6 7-6 7-6 to advance to the third round in London, the Spaniard took aim at Kyrgios for endangering people's safety.
At 4-4, 30-30 in the third set, Kyrgios drilled a ground stroke straight at Nadal when he charged to the net and pinged him on the body. Nadal responded by glaring at Kyrgios as he waited for an apology that never arrived.
Kyrgios told reporters afterwards he was aiming to hit Nadal in the chest and said he would not say sorry because he'd done nothing wrong.
The stare Nadal gave Kyrgios after that slap shot hit him would have melted platinum.— Adam Peacock (@adampeacock3) July 4, 2019
But while he didn't see a problem with the point, Nadal did, and he let the world know.
At the same time, Nadal also gave Kyrgios a clip by suggesting he doesn't adhere to the customs of respect and sportsmanship tennis is known for.
"Honestly, it is not about what I feel or what I don't feel. Honestly, it is about we are in a game and the history of this sport is about respect and is about playing fair during the whole time," Nadal said.
"I don't say Nick does this stuff to bother the opponent, but it is true that sometimes he's dangerous. When he hits the ball like this, is dangerous.
"It is not dangerous for me, it is dangerous for a line referee, dangerous for the crowd. When you hit the ball like this, you don't know where the ball goes.
"I know he's a big, talented player, but I am a professional player, too. I know when you hit this kind of ball, the ball can go anywhere. This time the ball went in, almost hit me, no problem. I am professional, so I know how to avoid this.
"But another one, the ball goes straight to the back. So it could have been a dangerous moment for the line umpire. That ball hits an eye or something like this, is a problem. That's it.
"It is not about I am angry about him at all. It's about I want to play a match of tennis. Sometimes it's difficult."
Nadal said before the match when Kyrgios wants to play tennis at the level he's capable of, he can beat anyone in the world, and afterwards said with his talent he's a potential grand slam champion.
But as the 33-year-old pointed out, a lot of what Kyrgios can achieve in his career hangs on a big "if".
When it was put to the 18-time major winner Kyrgios could go to another level if he had Nadal's tenacity to accompany the booming serve and killer ground strokes, the Spaniard's honesty told you all you needed to know about the Australian's career.
"If, if, if. Doesn't exist," Nadal said. "As I said plenty of times, he's a very top, talented player. But there is a lot of important things that you need to do to become a champion, no? He has a lot of good ingredients.
"But, of course, there remains an important one sometimes, and that is the love, the passion for this game. Without really loving this game that much, it is difficult to achieve important things.
"Anyway, with his talent and with his serve, he can win a grand slam, of course. He has the talent to do it. It is true that things can be completely different for him if he wants to play all the matches the same way that he tried today.
"But if you see the first round against Jordan Thompson, he was able to win the match, but the intensity on court, the way that he played, the way that he was focused, was different than today.
"He likes to play these kind of matches. But to win important things, you don't need to play against the top players, you need to play against other players that they are so good, too. You need to win those matches."
It's not like Nadal was saying anything new about Kyrgios - everyone who's ever seen him play knows he can be hot one day and freezing the next and it's almost always because of his ever-changing attitude.
Even though he's got more talent in his little finger than most have in their entire body, the man himself knows he's nowhere near being on the same level as big guns like Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
"Yeah, I mean, I know what I'm capable of. Just depends. I'm a great tennis player, but I don't do the other stuff. I'm not the most professional guy. I won't train day in, day out. I won't show up every day," Kyrgios said.
"So there's a lot of things I need to improve on to get to that level that Rafa brings, Novak, Roger have been doing for so long. Just depends how bad I want it.
"But, no, at the moment I don't think I can contend for a grand slam."