Rafael Nadal has fired back over the drama surrounding Nick Kyrgios following their frosty meeting in Acapulco.
Nadal opted for a cold handshake with Kyrgios at the net and later appeared to let slip his true feelings on the Australian, who battled the fans as much the Spaniard.
“He’s a player who has enormous talent, could be winning grand slams or fighting for the No.1 ranking,” Nadal said after his loss.
“He lacks respect for the crowd, the rival and towards himself.”
However, the frenzy surrounding his comments has just been tipped on its head.
In a press conference at Indian Wells, his first time facing the media since Acapulco, Nadal offered an explanation.
“None of you were in Acapulco and most of you wrote about the match,” he said.
“I invite you to watch the press conference. I meant what I said. It was in Spanish, some translations are taken out of context. Most of what I said on him was positive.”
ALL OVER AGAIN: Aussie young guns make mockery of Tomic
As outlined above, Nadal did indeed praise Kyrgios – but in clearing the air he also didn’t walk back on the line that kicked off all the drama.
One theory about Nadal’s reaction on the night went beyond Kyrgios’s interactions with the crowd or the Aussie’s complaints that Nadal was trying to dictate the pace of play.
An underarm serve in the third set caught Nadal off guard and, even though it didn’t go down as an ace, the Spaniard’s subsequent comments sparked a furious debate.
Many tennis pundits and fans, not to mention Roger Federer, thought the tactic should be utilised more often – especially against Nadal, who stands deep behind the base line to return.
“I don’t feel disrespected by him serving underhand,” the world No.2 clarified.
“He is free to do whatever the rules allow him to do.”
Kyrgios was not concerned by Nadal’s criticism in Acapulco, saying after his big win that “I’m different, Rafa’s different”.
COACHLESS CHAMPION: Alexander Zverev’s cheeky dig at Kyrgios
“He can focus on what he needs to do,” the Australian said.
“He doesn’t know the journey I’ve been through. He doesn’t know anything about me so I’m not going to listen at all.”
Kyrgios and Nadal are up against it to meet at Indian Wells this week, sitting on opposite sides of the draw.
The Australian could face world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the third round.