Rafael Nadal defeated Nick Kyrgios in four sets on Monday evening in the fourth round of the Australian Open. Afterwards, the top seed paid the home favourite the highest of compliments on his efforts in Melbourne.

“I saw him playing during the whole tournament almost every match, and he has been great, with a very positive attitude. Personally, I like to watch him play when he’s doing that way,” Nadal said. “I think everybody likes to watch Nick play when he’s able to play like this. His talent is to be one of the best [players] of the world, without a doubt, with good chances to fight for every tournament.’’

The World No. 1 expected a tough match against the Aussie, whom he now leads 5-3 in their ATP Head2Head series. Kyrgios has beaten Nadal at a Grand Slam before (2014 Wimbledon), so the legendary lefty knew that if the 24-year-old was on his game inside Rod Laver Arena, he would be in for a battle.

“When he wants to play tennis, when he’s focussed on what he’s doing, I think he’s a very important player for our sport because he has a big talent,” Nadal said. “He’s one of these players that can be very, very interesting for the crowd.”

What was Nadal’s secret to success? According to the 19-time Grand Slam champion, he wasn’t zoned in on a specific tactic or pattern against Kyrgios.

“What I had to do is play my best tennis. When I go on court, you can try to think about a couple of things, but at the end what really matters is to play well,” Nadal said. “I know if I am playing my tennis and I am able to do it well, I am probably going to have my chances. If not, it will be much more difficult.”

Kyrgios has one of the biggest serves on the ATP Tour, an electric forehand and a two-handed backhand that, with its brief backswing, could neutralise offence aimed in its direction. But for Nadal, it was about exerting his game style in the rallies.

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“I try to do my game. Of course, there are a couple of things that you always try to [do to] make that happen. I think I have been playing well. It’s always the same thing: when we have been playing rallies, I feel more or less in control of the point,” Nadal said. “I think I played well from the baseline, changing directions, changing rhythms, playing aggressive with my forehand and backhand.

“The problem is when he’s serving, you don’t have many chances. He has a big serve, so you are under pressure the whole match. That’s the story about playing against the big servers, especially Nick, who is a big server [and] is a very good player from the baseline, too. So you’re under pressure during the whole match.”

Nadal will next face fifth seed Dominic Thiem for a spot in the semi-finals.



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