Rafael Nadal beat the Australian 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3) to progress to the third round, but the 33-year-old’s coach, Francisco Roig, insists this isn’t the first time Nadal has had a difficult match in the early rounds on at Wimbledon.
Roig admits the opponents Nadal has faced at SW19 this year has resulted in it being one of the Spaniard’s toughest first weeks at the All England Club.
And when the question was put to him about the difficulty of the players Nadal had faced this year, Roig replied: “In terms of opponents, yes.”
Kyrgios spent large parts of the match questioning Nadal’s speed of play and as a result of his behaviour on court the Australian was given an official warning by the chair umpire.
After the game Nadal said: “He was a tough opponent.
“When he wants to compete, he’s one of the toughest opponents you can face.”
But the Spaniard’s 51-year-old coach and former doubles champion was also quick to point out that Nadal hasn’t had it easy in previous years either.
“In previous years, he’s played [Karen] Khachanov [2017 third round], [Mikhail] Kukushkin [2018 first round] and Alex de Minaur [2018 third round],” he said.
“All demanding matches, all before the fourth round.
“I think the fact that he played Kyrgios so early this year overshadowed the fact he’s had tough early round matches in previous years.”
After moving past Kyrgios, Nadal faced France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round.
After comfortably beating him in three sets; 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, he will now face Portugual’s Joao Sousa on Centre Court later today.
Roig feels that when Nadal is healthy and is playing at SW19, the two-time Wimbledon champion only needs a few days to get ready for playing on grass, which also allows him time to focus on reaching the latter stages of the Grand Slam event.
“When he arrives healthy to Wimbledon, all he needs is a few days to prepare and he’s set for a good start to the tournament,” Roig said.
“It also allows us to set our sights on loftier goals later in the tournament.”
Sousa, who is currently ranked 69th in the world, is aiming to reach his first major quarter-final.
The players have previously played each other twice, with the most recent being at Madrid on clay in 2016 – Nadal won both games.