Australian Open 2020: Nadal overcomes the mercurial Kyrgios, pays classy tribute to Kobe Bryant
- Rafael Nadal kept his bid for a record-equaling 20th Grand Slam title alive by thwarting a tough challenge from Nick Kyrgios.
Rafael Nadal kept his bid for a record equaling 20th Grand Slam title alive by thwarting a tough challenge from the mercurial Nick Kyrgios to advance to the quarter-finals of the 2020 Australian Open. The legendary Spaniard took 3 hours and 38 minutes to beat the Australian 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 at the Rod Laver Arena. The home crowd was firmly behind the 23-year-old Australian, but that was not enough for Kyrgios to go past the World No.1.
Nadal was all praise for his opponent after his fourth round encounter, quipping about Kyrgios -
“When he wants to play, when he is focused on what he’s doing, I think he’s a very important player for our sport, because he has a big talent. He's one of these players that can be very, very interesting for the crowd… I saw him playing during the whole tournament almost every match, and he has been great, with a very positive attitude… His talent is to be one of the best of the world, without a doubt, with good chances to fight for every tournament.”
After the match, Nadal also paid tribute to the iconic Kobe Bryant, who passed away in a tragic helicopter crash in California on Januray 26, 2020.
“What can I say? I wake up this morning with this terrible news. Super sad. He has been one of the greatest sportsmen in history. He deserves a round of big applause. I didn’t spend time with him, but I met him. I have a very good friend, Pau Gasol (formerly of the LA Lakers), that was playing with him for a long time.”
A sterner test awaits Nadal in the quarterfinals in the form of Dominic Thiem. This will be the first appearance for Thiem in the quarterfinal stage of the Australian Open, and he reached the last eight after thrashing Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
Published 27 Jan 2020, 20:56 IST