Rafael Nadal may not end up winning a third Wimbledon singles title but he will take joy from having beaten his ‘bete noire’ Nick Kyrgios in an engrossing but bad-tempered grudge match on Thursday.
The 33-year-old Spaniard came through in four sets 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/3) which saw fiery but talented Australian Kyrgios receive a warning for unsportsmanlike behaviour after a running argument with the umpire while twice serving under-arm.
Nadal’s pleasure was evident when he sealed the match against a man he had accused of lacking respect for the sport as he fist-pumped and jumped in the air yelling to his camp seated on Centre Court.
“I was aware of everything,” said Nadal, who was winning his 50th match at Wimbledon.
“I was just next to him so I don’t want to comment on this but potentially he is a Grand Slam winner.”
Earlier, his great rival, eight-time champion Roger Federer had no such problems as he eased into the third round, beating British wild card Jay Clarke 6-1, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 to equal American legend Jimmy Connors’s record of 17 appearances in the last 32.
On the women’s side, there will be a new name adorning the trophy as defending champion Angelique Kerber went out in three sets to lucky loser Lauren Davis 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Kerber looked in control after the first set but once she went 3-2 down in the second Davis — ranked outside the top 250 earlier this year — gained in confidence.
“Its been a tough journey and a process of learning and growing as a player and person,” said Davis.
“The drop in ranking has made this win even more fulfilling.”