Rafael Nadal was positive about Nick Kyrgios on Monday. The Australian 'enfant terrible' had to bow to the number one in the world in the eighth finals of the Australian Open.
"This was the Kyrgios that I like to see play," Nadal said at the press conference after the fourth-round match in Melbourne. "And I think everyone would like to see Nick if he can reach this level."
In the past, Nadal was openly critical of Kyrgios, who often came in the news with incidents on and off the track. For example, the Spaniard said at the beginning of last year that Kyrgios was "disrespectful to me, the public and themselves," because the Australian in Acapulco in Mexico argued with the public and tried to surprise Nadal with a private service.
On Monday, Nadal denied that he hates 24-year-old Kyrgios. "He is one of the most talented players in the world. If he reaches his best level, then it is a very nice player for the audience."
"I have criticized him in the past because he did things that were wrong. He did not set the best example for youth and was not doing well for the image of the sport. But if he behaves correctly, then I am the first to support him. "
See also: The eternal winners Federer, Nadal and Djokovic: "They are three bosses"
"It is not Kyrgios' talent to blame"
Kyrgios was the first Nadal to steal a set at the Australian Open. In the third and fourth set it ended in a tiebreak, in which Nadal took the lead.
"I found him playing very strongly from the baseline. He always changed rhythm and was aggressive with both his forehand and backhand," Nadal analyzed Kyrgios' play.
"You don't get many chances on his service. You are actually under pressure throughout the game. If Kyrgios is focused on his game, then he can be one of the best players in our sport, because his talent doesn't depend on it."
Nadal plays against the Austrian Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. The winner will compete in the semi-final against Stan Wawrinka or Alexander Zverev.
Nick Kyrgios paid tribute to the deceased basketball player Kobe Bryant before the game. (Photo: Pro Shots)