Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios have played eight matches so far, with the Spaniard scoring five wins. Their most recent clash came at the Australian Open last year, when Rafa prevailed in four tight sets to reach the quarters.
Nick has played only one match since then, and he still remembers the thrill and excitement that the encounter brought, sharing a video with one of the best points and praising Nadal. After three hours and 38 minutes, Rafa produced a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 victory against an inspired home star, who gave its best to stay in touch with world no.
1. The Aussie hit 25 aces, but that wasn't enough to keep him safe, as the Spaniard producing more efficient numbers on the first and especially the second serve to face only three break points in the entire clash, suffering two breaks that almost cost him dearly.
On the other hand, Rafa stole Nick's serve twice from nine opportunities, having to prevail in the crucial moments to remain on the title course. Nadal had 64 winners and 27 unforced errors, delivering excellent numbers but struggling to break Nick's rhythm after the opener.
Still, the more experienced player found a way to seal the deal in four sets and avoid spending even more time on the court. A forehand winner sent Rafa 2-1 ahead, and he broke Kyrgios in the next game from 40-15 down to move in front.
The Spaniard held at 30 with a service winner to cement the break and move further ahead, followed by another commanding hold that sent him 5-2 up. Landing one powerful serve after another, Nadal produced an excellent hold at love in game nine to clinch the opener 6-3 in 36 minutes, hoping for more in the rest of the clash.
Facing an ultimate challenge in the second set's first game, Nick repelled three break chances and held after four deuces to provide a massive boost for the rest of the set.
Nick Kyrgios shared an amazing point against Rafael Nadal from Melbourne.
Kyrgios found the way to stay in the longer rallies with a mighty opponent, holding at 15 with a beautiful lob winner in game three and delivering his first break of serve a few minutes later thanks to a forehand down the line winner that Nadal failed to catch.
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, allowing Nick to grab the set with two aces at 5-3. The third set was the encounter's brightest moment, with 35 winners and a high tennis level from start to finish.
Nick repelled a break chance at 3-4 with a perfect drop shot, held with two service winners in that game and survived two deuces at 5-6 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 before Kyrgios pulled the mini-break back in the ninth point after Nadal's forehand error.
A double fault from Nick sent Nadal 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, winning the set when Kyrgios netted a forehand in the 14th point.
Rafa delivered one comfortable hold after another in set number four and earned 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 before Kyrgios broke back to level the score at 5-5 and prolonged 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 a few minutes later to set the second straight tie break, opening a 5-3 gap following the Aussie's loose drop shot.
Serving at 6-4, the Spaniard forced his opponent's mistake to seal the deal and reach the 12th Australian Open quarter-final.