LONDON (AFP) – Nick Kyrgios set the tone on Tuesday for a Wimbledon blockbuster with bitter rival Rafael Nadal by stating, “We have mutual respect – but that’s about it.”
Kyrgios opened his Wimbledon campaign with a 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 7-6 (12/10), 0-6, 6-1 win over fellow Australian Jordan Thompson.
However, all attention was on his second round duel with Nadal after the two-time champion defeated Japanese qualifier Yuichi Sugita 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.
“Not sure that me and Rafa could go down to the Dog and Fox and have a drink together. I don’t know him at all. I know him as a tennis player,” said Kyrgios.
“I get along with people. Some people I don’t get along with.
“We have a mutual respect – but that’s about it, I think.”
Nadal and Kyrgios have been involved in a bitter war of words this year since the Australian defeated the 18-time major champion in a stormy clash in Acapulco.
It was the Australian’s third win over Nadal in six meetings.
Nadal accused his opponent of “lacking respect” after serving underarm, while Kyrgios described the Spaniard as “super salty” and being his “polar opposite”.
Kyrgios then became involved in a slanging match with Toni Nadal, the world number two’s uncle and former coach, who lambasted the Australian for his on-court behaviour.
Toni Nadal suggested it was the action of a man who lacks education.
“Bro, I did 12 years at school – I’m very educated. I understand you’re upset that I beat your family,” Kyrgios hit back in an interview.
However, Nadal refused to add fuel to the fire on Tuesday ahead of tonight’s clash.
“Being honest I’m too old for all this stuff. What I said I said. That’s all. I’m not a guy who will be in a fight with anybody,” he said.
“I will keep doing things I love. After tomorrow I will be back in this amazing place.”
Nadal later added, “My thoughts are very clear. I play against a top talent player, very dangerous player when he wants to play tennis.
“Normally against the best players, he wants to play tennis. When that happens, he’s a very dangerous opponent.”