The two have been locked in a war of words over the last few weeks, with Kyrgios trading insults with Nadal and his uncle Toni and that threatened to spill out on to Centre Court in the Spaniard’s 6-3 3-6 7-6 (5) 7-6 (3) win.
There were the customary underarm serves and constant chatter with the umpire, but there was almost a flashpoint in the third set when Kyrgios thrashed a forehand straight at Nadal and opted not to apologise.
And afterwards, the combustible Australian readily admitted to deliberately attempting to strike his rival. “I mean, the dude has got how many Slams, and how much money in the bank account?” Kyrgios said. “I think he can take a ball in the chest, bro. I’m not going to apologise to him at all.
“Yeah, I was going for him. Yeah, I wanted to hit him square in the chest.”
Kyrgios could have been expected to give up after the incident, as he has so often before, but he stuck around, forcing another tie-break in the fourth set. He will have nightmares about an easy volley he put into the net on the first point, which gave Nadal the impetus and the two-time SW19 winner saw it out for an impressive win that he enjoyed.
Nadal’s other great rival meanwhile endured a far more serene day at The Championships. Roger Federer showed no mercy to home hope Jay Clarke on Court One — who grew up idolising the Swiss and has admitted attempting to emulate his style.
Clarke was outclassed in the first set and, although he took Federer to a tie-break in the second, the eight-time SW19 champion closed out a 6-1 7-6 (3) 6-2 victory in one hour and 36 minutes.
There was also disappointment for another Brit over on Centre Court. Cameron Norrie went out in the second round after suffering a 6-4 6-4 6-0 defeat to eighth seed Kei Nishikori. It was the 23-year-old’s first outing on the main show court and it was reward for his maiden main draw win at SW19 on Tuesday.
Norrie attempted to remain positive after his defeat. “I think the other day to get my first win was so special for me,” he said. “And to win doubles in five sets on Wednesday was great, too. To see the schedule and I was on Centre Court, kind of felt like everything was leading up to, everything was kind of going perfectly. And then I woke up this morning, I really thought I could win.
“I think it was a great experience for me, and I think I have progressed a lot with my tennis and with my game. So I think I’m really excited for next year and I think grass could be my favourite surface next year.”
Defeats for Clarke and Norrie after Edmund’s second round exit on Wednesday means that Dan Evans is the last Brit still in contention in the men’s singles, following a convincing straight-sets victory over 18th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.
On paper the British number three’s 6-3 6-2 7-6 (2) victory was an upset but, given Evans’ form and prowess on grass and his opponent’s lack of form, it would have been a disappointment if he had not found a way through.
Things got a little tricky in the third set after Evans had first held match points at 5-2 but he got over the line at the fifth time of asking in the tie-break and then struggled to hold back tears.
“Listen, obviously a lot of my friends were here, people who have helped me so much,” he said after his win. “I don’t know, just got the better of me today. There’s plenty more tennis to be played in this tournament, so I won’t be resting on that win.”
Evans will be back in action on Saturday, when he takes the World No 69 João Sousa — a player sat two places below him in the ATP world rankings — for a place in the fourth round and second week of Wimbledon.
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