The highlight of the men’s draw on Day 4 undoubtedly has to be the matchup between Nick Kyrgios and Rafael Nadal. Nadal is amongst the favourites for the title this fortnight but has found him vulnerable in the opening week at SW19 for a while now. Losses to either those who play a more traditional grass court style (Gilles Muller, Dustin Brown) or ultra aggressive power hitters (Kyrgios, Lukas Rosol) have been the story of his Wimbledon for most of the decade.
Nadal did make the semi finals last year and there are suggestions that the courts are playing much more to his liking this year. He followed up his French Open title by beating Yuichi Sugita in straight sets to kick off his Wimbledon. The first set started badly with the Spaniard going 2-0 and 0-40 down before fighting back on his way to a 6-3 6-1 6-3 victory. “A good start for me, winning in straight sets against a player that knows how to play on grass. It’s a positive start for me,” Nadal said. “I have another day tomorrow to keep working on the things that I need to work [on]. I hope that’s going to help me.”
Kyrgios’ opening round was full of his usual dramatics, eventually beating his compatriot Jordan Thompson in five sets – 7-6 3-6 7-6 0-6 6-1. Thompson had been in good form prior to Wimbledon, making a final and a semi final in warmup tournaments and would have been confident of his chances after a medical timeout for Kyrgios after the second set. After two more very different sets, he broke early in the decider and would never look back with a blockbuster clash in view. “I was very motivated today. But I wasn’t looking forward because I knew that Thommo has been playing very well. He was more than capable of winning today as well,” Kyrgios said. “There were a couple moments if they went his way, he could have been easily the one in this chair at the moment.”
There are still some tough tests for Nadal along the way if he wants to get back into the Wimbledon final for the first time since 2011 but none more potentially dangerous than this one if Kyrgios turns up. “As soon as the draw came out, I was super happy that I saw him in my section. It’s more exciting. When you’re a kid, you want to play the best players in the world on [what] I think is the best court in the world. This is something that I can’t take for granted. There’s no guarantee I’m going to be here again in this position. I’m going to grasp it with both hands, go out there and give it my best shot.” Kyrgios said. The Aussie won’t be afraid of the big occasion and will certainly take the match to Nadal and could well blast him off the court if his serve is firing.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in five sets