Nick Kyrgios was up to his usual tricks in Beijing on Sunday, but Rafael Nadal was undisturbed. He remained cool and calm to collect his sixth title of the season. By Jade du Preez.
In true style, world number 1 Rafael Nadal won his 75th title at the China Open in an hour and 32 minutes, beating Australia’s Nick Kyrgios 6-2, 6-1. Nadal was steely-faced, determined and professional throughout, whilst Kyrgios threw tantrums, swore and acted like an arrogant child. This kind of behaviour isn’t unlike Kyrgios though, who has been fined sizeable amounts of money in the past for unsportsmanlike conduct on court.
However, Kyrgios’ concentration was what lost him the match with crucial points being easily handed over the Nadal. The first set went to the Spaniard when Kyrgios double faulted on Nadal’s set point and from there, the match was lost. Nadal went on to gain a 5-0 lead, which was hard fought for, as from 3-0 Kyrgios seemed to remember he was playing again and started putting in the hard graft needed to play someone like Nadal.
Fighting through several deuce games, it was only at 5-0 when Nadal had the opportunity to bagel the younger player, did Kyrgios pull thumb and win his first game of the set. But this was to be his only one, as Nadal would go on to serve for the set and the tournament.
Showing years of experience, Nadal wasn’t fazed when Kyrgios would stick his tongue out in arrogance when he won a point and gloat to the rest of the crowd. Instead he’d focus on the next point and fire back beautiful winners which made Kyrgios’ attempts look childlike. Case in point, after sticking his tongue out, Nadal aced Kyrgios during the next point and was already moving to the other side of the baseline and preparing for his next serve in a cool and blasé way before Kyrgios could even think of releasing his tongue from his mouth.
This wasn’t exactly the match everyone was cracking it up to be, whilst Kyrgios played beautifully in previous rounds, beating both Zverev brothers, Steve Darcis – after he retired – and Nikoloz Basilashvili. His tenacity and clear talent is normally what makes for pretty even matches, even when playing legends of the sport.
All in all, this was by far not the worst that Kyrgios has behaved but it certainly wasn’t the normal trick shot talent we’re used to from the Aussie, who’s famed for his tweener lobs and too-cool-to-be-here attitude. His shots just didn’t seem to hold any power against Nadal who fired shots back with his entire body, whilst Kyrgios just looked like his shots were weaker and altogether less cut-throat than they usually are.
Instead it was Nadal wielding the knife and slashing at Kyrgios’ hopes of his first title in 2017.