Australian Open: Kokkinakis and Kyrgios speak after win
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Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios found time for a hilarious response to an Indian Wells heckler during his clash with Rafael Nadal. It was a vintage display from the 26-year-old, and not just in terms of tennis as tensions ran high in California.
On paper at least, Kyrgios went into his showdown with Nadal as a heavy underdog given his 132 world ranking. But he has toppled the Spaniard three times before, with one victory coming as recently as 2019.
Kyrgios’ path to the last eight included a win over eighth seed Casper Ruud and a Jannik Sinner walkover, while Nadal pipped Dan Evans en route to the quarters.
Thursday’s match-up was not to be a normal one, even if Kyrgios’ hot-headed antics could be considered par for the course. With the clash tied up at one set apiece, he turned around before serving to confront a heckler in the crowd: “Why are you speaking?” he vented.
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Kyrgios then drew laughter from those in attendance when he pointed to Hollywood actor Ben Stiller, who was sitting nearby, and shouted: “Do I tell him how to act? No!”
Initially, it seemed like the exchange may have been a little bit of fun amid a thrilling battle with 21-time Grand Slam champion Nadal. However, his genuine frustration was clear to see after losing the deciding set 7-6.
The reigning Australian Open Men’s Doubles champion kept his cool for as long as it took to shake the umpire’s hand. But straight afterwards, he hurled his racket into the ground before it bounced up and narrowly missed a ball boy’s head.
With emotions still raw after the encounter, Kyrgios defended his actions by claiming that it landed ‘metres away’. Nadal was not forgiving, however, calling on the ATP to dish out harsh punishment or risk a catastrophic incident in the future.
Nadal has already set up a blockbuster semi-final showdown with teenage compatriot Carlos Alcaraz. The youngster is seen as the future of Spanish tennis, and beat Cameron Norrie in straight sets to reach the final four.
Two more quarter-finals are due to take place on Friday to determine who could face either of the Spaniards in Sunday’s final. Seventh seed Andrey Rublev will face Grigor Dimitrov, while American Taylor Fritz will play unseeded Miomir Kecmanovic.
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