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Elliott: Rafael Nadal plays cool when he knocks out Nick Kyrgios

While Nick Kyrgios ranted, Rafael Nadal stayed calm.

While the highly skilled but explosively volatile Kyrgios threw his racquet, berated fans who told him how to play and repeatedly yelled at the professionally proactive chair umpire Carlos Bernardes for not doing a perfect job of crowd control in imperfect conditions, left Nadal after his business. This season, Nadal’s business wins.

Despite a chronically painful foot, despite a calendar at 36th With his birthday in less than three months, the plucky Spaniard extended his start to the season on Thursday with a 7-6 (0), 5-7, 6-4 win over Australian Kyrgios in the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open to 19-0 at Indian Wells Tennisgarten . He was satisfied with his performance and the result. He had every right to.

“I enjoy these types of matches. I enjoy the challenges,” said Nadal. “And today I was able to continue and that makes me happy and proud.”

He and Kyrgios spent nearly three hours together of incredible shots, brilliant rallies and high-level tennis that ended with Kyrgios – no stranger to tantrums and controversy – irritably throwing his racquet, almost hitting a ball boy. The youngster wasn’t injured but Kyrgios was serenaded with a chorus of boos as he left the pitch at Stadium 1.

“Just because I have an outburst doesn’t mean I’m unfocused,” Kyrgios said afterwards during a combative press conference. “To be honest, when I watch a little kid play and he gets mad that he’s losing it, it just shows he cares. I’d prefer someone to get angry that they’re losing than just turn it on its head. Have you ever looked at it from this side?”

Nadal, who is set to meet 18-year-old Spanish compatriot Carlos Alcaraz in a semifinal on Saturday, left the court to the admiring ovation he normally gets. He earned it on Thursday.

Kyrgios, whose serve surpassed 140mph several times, earned an early break when Nadal made a double fault in the third game of the first set. But Nadal broke back to 5-5 when Kyrgios hit a long forehand. Nadal dominated and secured the tie-break when Kyrgios was penalized with a point for an audible profanity.

“Honestly, I felt like I was the one who ended the series. I felt like I was playing well. I felt like I did everything I set out to do right in the first set,” said Kyrgios. “I sat down with my coach and myself and I had a game plan and it all worked. Two points before the first set, I don’t know how he got out of that game.

“He’s too good, I guess. He played well a couple of points and got away and he’s doing that. That makes him great.”

The second set went on serve until Kyrgios pulled in a good strike to earn the break and the set. Nadal broke 4-3 in the third set when Kyrgios made a double fault. Not long after – and after actor Ben Stiller was shown sitting in the crowd on the video board – Kyrgios got into an argument with a fan. “Why are you talking?” Kyrgios said to the fan [Stiller] how to act No.”

Nick Kyrgios throws away his racquet after losing a point to Rafael Nadal.

Nick Kyrgios throws his racquet after losing a point to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open tournament on Thursday in Indian Wells.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Nadal is not a racquet thrower, not a mass bait. It’s not his personality. And he has no animosity towards Kyrgios. “In a way, I like him as a character,” Nadal said.

But Nadal’s family instilled in him at a young age that he would not be allowed to break racquets and he quickly realized that playing angry would not get him where he wanted to go. He never forgot that.

“I always have a very basic perspective and it’s about doing things [are] will help you play better or win more,” Nadal said. “You can be sad, you can be very upset, but if it helps you play better or win more, do it. But it’s not my case. So when I get upset or lose my focus, I say: I’m not that type. Me, usually I’m not, I don’t behave much, no, I like to be positive, not negative. But not on the tennis court, not even in my normal life.”

The story of Nadal facing a child almost half his age in the semifinals will be compelling.

Alcaraz defeated defending champion Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 6-4, 6-3 on Thursday, a match Nadal watched on TV after his own match ended.

Alcaraz is the future but Nadal is very dominant in the present.

“Of course, now and without a doubt, it will be a great rival for the next few months,” Nadal said. “But if I think and I’m selfish, honestly it’s great to have such a star from my country because we as tennis lovers will continue to enjoy a great player fighting for the most important titles for the next, me me do not know how many years, many years.

“That’s my feeling, from my point of view. It’s fantastic for the tennis lovers and he’s a countryman and a great guy. So I like him. I wish him all the best. Probably not after he played me, but in general.”

https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2022-03-17/column-rafael-nadal-plays-it-cool-in-taking-out-nick-kyrgios-at-indian-wells Elliott: Rafael Nadal plays cool when he knocks out Nick Kyrgios

Andrew Schnitker

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