Kyrgios won’t apologize for aiming ball at Nadal

LONDON — Nick Kyrgios refused to apologize for attempting to hit Rafael Nadal with a ball during their hotly contested Wimbledon second-round clash Thursday.

During the third set of a match littered with drama at the All England Club, Kyrgios aimed a forehand at the 18-time Grand Slam champion, but Nadal deflected it with his racket. Nadal glared back at the Australian but ultimately kept his cool to seal a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) 7-6 (3) win and move into the third round.

In a spicy post-match press conference, Kyrgios admitted he had purposely aimed the ball at Nadal’s chest — and would not say he was sorry for doing so.

“Why would I apologize? I mean, the dude has got how many slams, how much money in the bank account?” Kyrgios said. “I think he can take a ball to the chest, bro. I’m not going to apologize to him at all.”

“I don’t say Nick does this stuff to bother the opponent, but [it] is true that sometimes he’s dangerous. When he hit the ball like this, [it] is dangerous,” Nadal said. “[It] is not dangerous for me, [it] is dangerous for a line referee, dangerous for a crowd. When you hit the ball like this, you don’t know where the ball goes.

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I know he’s a big talented player, but I am a professional player, too. I know when you hit this kind of ball, the ball can go anywhere. This time the ball went in, [it] almost hit me, no problem. I am professional, so I know how to avoid this.”

Kyrgios spent much of the match, which was contested on Centre Court, complaining about Nadal’s speed of play. His constant bemoaning led him to an official warning, before he branded the chair umpire “a disgrace”.

The tension began when Kyrgios claimed early in the first set that his request to challenge a call had been missed. He then began to question Nadal’s speed of play and, when Nadal left for a bathroom break at the end of the first set, Kyrgios continued to vent his frustration towards the chair umpire.

In between the underarm serves and attempted ‘tweener’ shots, that became a common theme throughout the next hour on court and the performance continued in his post-match interviews.

There Kyrgios again branded the umpire “horrendous” while facing questions from the press, before he explained why he felt wronged.

“I’m serving, I’m like starting my routine. Rafa said, ‘Stop.’ The rule is like play to the speed of the server. Why do I have to wait for him to get into his rhythm every time?” Kyrgios said. “I got angry at the ref. He’s like, ‘No, I’ll tell him what I want to tell him.’ I was like, ‘Oh, a little bit of a power trip there.’ He obviously feels pretty important sitting up in the chair. He was just terrible. I thought the way he handled the match was just bad.”

Nadal will go on to play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round on Saturday.

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