Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios are examples of what is called Elective Affinities' incompatibility. Well, we even took the time to read the third novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to demonstrate how the relationship between Spaniard and Australian fits the pattern.
Theirs is a relationship that has been made of sharp words and criticisms, both through interviews and through social media. Especially in the past eighteen months, the two players did not hesitate to use poisonous digs. One of the first moments of tension occurred in Acapulco 2019.
Kyrgios won that challenge against Nadal but the Spaniard criticized what happened during the match, especially in the first set, when Kyrgios seemed one step away from retirement: "I don't think he's a bad boy, but he lacks a little respect for the crowd, for the opponent and for himself.
He did his show and it went well today, he was the best and so I congratulate him," he said. Kyrgios' answer? "He doesn't know anything about me, I don't listen to him," said the Australian. Also in Acapulco 2019 during the semifinal against John Isner, the Australian turned polemically to the crowd of the court, saying: "Where are the Rafa fans at? Hey, Rafa fans, where you at?" and then: "Let's get a flight to Indian Wells."
It was Rafa and his uncle Toni's turn, again. Nadal's uncle said in an interview: "Rafa is completely right about Kyrgios. He lacks education and intelligence. He doesn't seem like a bad boy but he has shown disrespect already several times and I think that getting the thread back is difficult for him."
Rafael Nadal said: "Kyrgios should set a better example for boys." In summary what a little everyone thinks. Always against politically correct, Nick, during the clay-swing 2019, had words that were not exactly flattering towards the clay-season and, indirectly, towards Nadal and his fans: "Clay shouldn't even be a surface," he said.
Then, shortly before the Roland Garros, the Australia bad boy came back to attack Nadal directly: "He is a great player, but when he wins he is nice, he would never say anything bad, he compliments the opponent. When he loses disrespect.
The last time I beat him he disrespected me, my fans and had no respect for the sport!" At Wimbledon, before the challenge against Rafa, Kyrgios returned to talk about his opponent just on the eve of the match between the two: “I don't think I would ever go to have a beer with him.
I don't know him as a person. Only as a player. There are people with whom I am comfortable, others with whom I am not. There is respect, that's all." Rafa's answer was: "I don't care what Kyrgios does in his life."
In the summer of the same year, to show his dissent with the chair umpire decision to punish him with a warning after wasting too much time during the service, Kyrgios showed the difference in treatment he was subjected to compared to Rafael Nadal.
In the video, posted on his Instagram account, you can see how Kyrgios was punished for delaying the game's resumption by 28 seconds; while Nadal remained unpunished despite 41 seconds of delay. We arrive in 2020. During the second-round match at the Australian Open, Kyrgios imitated Rafa's gestures during the service.
When an opinion was asked at the press conference, Nadal said, "I don't care about Kyrgios' imitation. I'm here to play tennis," and in fact, Rafa defeated his hated Nick during the tournament. However, before the challenge, Nadal said with diplomacy: "Kyrgios? I don't know him thoroughly to have a clear opinion on him.
It is evident that when he does certain things I don't like him at all, but when he plays tennis seriously and shows passion for this sport he is a positive player for the Tour, he also likes fans a lot. This part of him is fine."
Last event, right now during the Covid-19 global pandemic. In a time when players entertain their fans between live social and challenges, Kyrgios invited Nadal for a direct Instagram, after the podcast successes among Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Maria Sharapova and Fabio Fognini.
Nadal graciously said no: "I don't mind directing with Kyrgios, but between us, there is a generational gap and a very large age difference, and I believe that he can have more fun with someone closer to his style."
What will Nick think about it? In short, an example of a relationship between two professionals that surely, for what has happened in the past, will never be comparable to what they have among them, for example, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. A problem of Elective Affinities.