At the last year's Australian Open, the crowd in Melbourne was eager to see the clash between world no. 1 Rafael Nadal and the home star Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round. In his second-round meeting with Gilles Simon, Nick got a warning from the chair umpire, and Nadal was on his agenda again, mocking the 19-time Major champion and his service motion.
Besides his usual tantrums, Kyrgios had played on a high level in the first two matches at the home Major, serving well and staying focused in the exchanges to set the third-round clash with Karen Khachanov. On the other hand, Nadal reached the fourth round before the Aussie, advancing into the last 16 in Melbourne for the 13th time following a one-sided 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 triumph over the fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in under 100 minutes.
Nadal praised both Kyrgios and Khachanov ahead of their encounter, saying he will watch the match between two of the greatest players in the world and prepare for the next clash, whoever wins. As it turned out, the Spaniard and the entire tennis world witnessed one of the season's most exciting clashes, with Kyrgios prevailing over Khachanov 6-2, 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 7-6 after four hours and 26 minutes to advance and arrange the meeting with Rafa in the next round.
Rafael Nadal awaited for Nick Kyrgios or Karen Khachanov at 2020 AO.
Nick claimed the opening set in style, and the match turned into an open war right after that, with two rivals pushing each other to the limits in the remaining four sets.
In the end, Kyrgios won six points more than Karen and fended off three out of four break chances to keep the pressure on the other side. The Russian made a slow start before matching the Aussie's pace and saving a match point in sets three and four to force a decider after three and a half hours.
Nick saved two match points in the final set's tie break and claimed it 10-8 to start a massive celebration in front of the home fans. "Both Nick Kyrgios and Karen Khachanov are great players; Nick always enjoys playing here at home, and Karen is a player with great potential.
I will watch them, enjoying what should be a thrilling tennis encounter between two of the finest players in the world; let's see what will happen. If Nick Kyrgios wins, I hope to be ready for that clash," Rafael Nadal said.