'So it begins': Rafa's Nadal's brutal response to Nick Kyrgios act
A cheeky tactic from Nick Kyrgios was brutally shut down by Rafael Nadal in the opening set of the highly anticipated quarter-final showdown at Indian Wells.
The pair has somewhat of a chequered history, with Nadal labelling Kyrgios "disrespectful" in 2019 after losing to the Aussie at the Mexican Open.
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Their spicy rivalry has turned ugly at times, with Kyrgios previously admitting to hitting a ball at Nadal on purpose.
Things also boiled over in Acapulco in 2019 when Nadal was riled by Kyrgios' tactics and the crowd relentlessly booed the Aussie star.
Kyrgios also took aim at the way the Spaniard slowed down the match, and the length of time he took between points.
Not surprisingly, things were a little awkward between the pair even before they made their way onto court, having to share a golf cart to be transported to the stadium.
As is tradition at the tournament in the California desert, players are transported to the court in golf carts.
In highly awkward scenes, Kyrgios sat in the front of the cart while Nadal was riding on the back - looking away from his opponent.
The pair didn't appear to share many words as they remained focused on the match, with minimal eye contact as well.
When things did get underway in the quarter-final clash between the pair, it didn't take long for Kyrgios to provide one of the first big talking points.
Having taken an early break and up 40-0 on his own serve, the Aussie decided it was the ideal time to bring out what was become his customary underarm serve.
Nadal has bristled in the past when asked about his thoughts on the cheeky tactic, but the 21-time grand slam champion was clearly ready for Kyrgios to try it.
Showing lightning fast anticipation, Nadal raced forward and ripped a huge forehand winner down the line in a brutal response to Kyrgios' serve.
The incident sent tennis fans into a spin on social media, with viewers loving the drama that Kyrgios matches invariably bring.
and so it begins 🤣@NickKyrgios #IndianWells pic.twitter.com/U64D9GGPtQ
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 17, 2022
No idea why Kyrgios would underarm serve when he was on the verge to love hold #IndianWells
— Ajay Thakkar (@AjayThakkar_) March 17, 2022
#Kyrgios underarm serve 😄 against Nadal, nice to see these tactics in these matches. He is an entertainer #indianwells2022
— Pranay Sharma (@pranaysharma80) March 17, 2022
Absolutely DELIGHTED Kyrgios lost that point with his underarm serve #IndianWells
— Aisling O'Connor (@aisling7) March 17, 2022
The Nick Kyrgios experience includes an underhand serve going through his legs. Don't try that at home https://t.co/WHUHlGyv0p
— Brian Webber (@bwwebber) March 17, 2022
Nick Kyrgios might me the most unpredictable athlete in all of sports. Hits a tweezer underarm serve followed by a 140 mph ace casually.
— Evan Glotzer (@evanglotzer) March 17, 2022
a between the legs serve lmao Kyrgios is too jokes
— LukasCFC ⭐⭐ (@Lukas_2499) March 17, 2022
Hahaha Kyrgios tried a cheeky serve and it bites him 😂
— Anna Dragičević... Dub a dee 🇧🇦🇷🇸💙⚪🐻 (@hahoAnna) March 17, 2022
Nick Kyrgios meltdown hands Rafa Nadal opening set
A short time later, Kyrgios had an opportunity to serve for the set at 5-4 but couldn't hold off the challenge from Nadal as he began to unravel.
Tennis reporter Christopher Clarey tweeted: “Kyrgios serves for the 1st set. 30-30, Nadal hits an extraterrestrial forehand return deep off a 143 mile-per-hour (230km/h) first serve, then wins the point. Gets his first break point of the set and … converts.”
Nadal held serve to edge ahead 6-5, before Kyrgios' frustrations boiled over in the next game as he smashed a racquet and continued to be heard muttering out loud.
The Aussie received a code violation for the racquet smash, before holding his own serve to send the first set into a tiebreak.
Nadal ruthlessly raced away to a 6-0 lead in the breaker as Kyrgios' mood became progressively worse and his outbursts towards his player's box more frequent.
At 0-6 down Kyrgios received a point penalty for another code violation due to an audible obscenity, to hand Nadal the opening set in dramatic fashion.
To his credit, Kyrgios managed to re-focus straight away and sent the match to a third set after winning the second 7-5.
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