Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios will meet for the ninth time in the Indian Wells quarter-final. Two great rivals will share the court for the first time since the 2020 Australian Open when Rafa prevailed in four tight sets. The Spaniard has a 5-3 advantage over a dangerous opponent, hoping to deliver the sixth triumph over the Aussie and remain undefeated in 2022.
Nick stunned Rafa in their first clash at Wimbledon 2014, and they have had some spicy matches over the years, especially in Acapulco 2019. The most recent duel came in the 2020 Australian Open fourth round, and Nadal prevailed 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 in three hours and 38 minutes for a place in the quarter-final.
The Aussie hit 25 aces, which was not enough to keep him safe. The Spaniard produced more efficient numbers on the first and especially the second serve, facing only three break points in the entire clash and suffering two breaks that almost cost him dearly.
Rafa stole Nick's serve twice from nine opportunities and prevailed in the crucial moments to remain on the title course. Nadal had 64 winners and 27 unforced errors, struggling to break Kyrgios' rhythm after the opener but still finding a way to grab the triumph in four sets.
Facing deuce in the encounter's first game, Rafa held with a forehand winner and a forced error from Kyrgios to avoid an early setback. A forehand winner sent Nadal 2-1 ahead, and he broke Kyrgios in the next game from 40-15 down to grab the crucial advantage.
Mixing his shots nicely, the Spaniard held at 30 with a service winner to cement the break before the Aussie claimed the sixth game to stay within one break deficit. Rafa held at love in the seventh game and served for the set at 5-3.
Landing one powerful serve after another, Nadal produced an excellent hold at love to clinch the opener 6-3 in 36 minutes, hoping for more in the rest of the clash.
Rafael Nadal defeated Nick Kyrgios to reach the 2020 Australian Open quarter-final.
Facing an ultimate challenge in the second set's first game, Nick repelled three break chances and held after four deuces to give himself a massive boost.
Not thinking about those opportunities he wasted, Rafa landed an ace down the T line to level the score at 1-1. Kyrgios stayed in the longer rallies with a mighty opponent and held at 15 with a beautiful lob winner in the third game.
The home star delivered his first break a few minutes later thanks to a forehand down the line winner. Serving at 3-1, Nick brought the game home at love when Rafa's backhand landed long, cementing the advantage and looking much better on the court than 15 minutes ago.
Rafa held at love in the sixth game with a perfect forehand down the line to reduce the deficit, but there was nothing he could do on the return, as Nick grabbed the set with two aces in game nine. The third set was the encounter's best part, with 35 winners overall and high tennis from start to finish.
Nick repelled a break chance at 3-4 with a perfect drop shot, held with two service winners and survived two deuces in the 12th game to reach a tie break. Rafa earned an instant mini-break for a 2-0 lead and forged a 4-1 advantage with a forehand winner.
Kyrgios pulled the mini-break back in the ninth point after Nadal's forehand error to extend his chances. Nick's double fault in the worst moment sent Rafa 6-5 up, with another double fault coming from the racquet of world no.
1 for more drama and excitement. A volley winner kept Nadal 7-6 in front, and the set was in his hands when Kyrgios netted a forehand in the 14th point. Rafa delivered one comfortable hold after another in set number four and scored a break at love in game three that pushed him closer to the finish line.
Serving at 5-4, Nadal sought the 13th consecutive comfortable hold, but it did not happen. Kyrgios broke back to level the score at 5-5 and prolong his chances. Facing two break points in the 11th game, Nick stayed calm to repel both and bring the game home for a complete turnaround.
Starting all over, Rafa hit four winners in the next game to set the second straight tie break and moved 5-3 in front following the Aussie's loose drop shot. Serving at 6-4, the Spaniard forced a mistake from his opponent to seal the deal and reach the 12th Australian Open quarter-final.