Nick Kyrgios has fired back after coming under controversy for throwing his racket and narrowly missing a ball boy after his loss to Rafael Nadal in Indian Wells. The 26-year-old was unable to serve out the opening set but stormed back to take the second before the Spaniard clinched a close 7-6(0) 5-7 6-4 victory in the quarter-final.
Kyrgios has not dropped a set on his way to the last eight in Indian Wells, equalling his previous career-best showing at the tournament after being given a walkover in the round of 16. He had already defeated eighth seed Casper Ruud 6-4 6-4, and dropped just four games across his first two matches.
Nadal came into their match having started the season 18-0 and managed to extend his streak to 19 wins after overcoming the tricky Aussie. Kyrgios has been a new man this season, with his only two losses in singles coming to Daniil Medvedev in Melbourne and Nadal on Thursday, while he also picked up the Australian Open doubles title with good friend Thanasi Kokkinakis.
The 26-year-old has been noticeably more positive and spoke about his new mindset during his BNP Paribas Open campaign but was left feeling frustrated after failing to close out the opening set against Nadal when serving for it, and again when he ultimately lost their ninth career meeting.
The current world No 132 threw his racket down in frustration at the conclusion of the match but it bounced up and almost made contact with a ball boy, who moved out the way to avoid being hit. Kyrgios was criticised for the move but when he saw the footage he issued a public apology and sought out the ball boy on social media, meeting with him in person the next day to apologise and give him his racket.
During the match, he’d also thrown his racket and punched a signage board when being broken at 5-4 in the opening set. When he told a spectator in the crowd to “shut the f*** up” while he was attempting to serve in the first set tiebreak, earning a point penalty for the audible obscenity which cost him the breaker.
The six-time title winner is now en route to Miami for the second of the two ‘Sunshine Double’ Masters 1000 events of the month after receiving a wildcard into the main draw. Off the back of his criticism from his match against Nadal, he has taken the opportunity to hit back with a defiant message.
“Win/lose. Stadiums are full. Positive/negative comments – still want photo,” he wrote on his Instagram stories over a photo of himself competing in Indian Wells. Kyrgios will now rise to just outside the world’s top 100 after falling to No 132 and will be hoping to get some more match wins under his belt before he skips the clay-court season.