There have already been a lot of blockbuster match-ups at the Mutua Madrid Open this week, and we’ve got another one coming up Thursday night - Rafael Nadal, one of the most decorated players in tennis history, against Nick Kyrgios, one of the biggest up-and-coming talents in the sport.
Here are 10 Things To Know about Nadal and Kyrgios’ third round clash at the Masters 1000 event.
1. The head-to-head series is tied, 1-1. Kyrgios won in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2014, 7-6(5) 5-7 7-6(5) 6-3, and Nadal got revenge in the third round of Rome in 2016, 6-7(3) 6-2 6-4.
2. Nadal is undefeated on clay this year. The Spaniard a flawless 11-0 on clay this year, going 5-0 to win the title in Monte Carlo, 5-0 to win the title in Barcelona and 1-0 so far this week in Madrid.
3. But he was pushed to the limits in that last match. Nadal needed just under three hours - two hours and 57 minutes to be exact - to squeak past longtime rival Fabio Fognini, 7-6(3) 3-6 6-4. “Even though I played really badly, my attitude has been very positive,” a relieved Nadal said afterwards.
4. Meanwhile, Kyrgios hasn’t lost a set this week. Kyrgios didn’t get a first round bye like Nadal and has played two matches to get here, and he’s won both in straight sets - starting with a 7-6(1) 6-4 first round win over Marcos Baghdatis, and then a 6-3 6-3 second round win over Ryan Harrison.
5. And Kyrgios probably won’t be intimidated by Nadal. The Aussie won his first career meeting against every member of the ‘Big Three’: Nadal (at 2014 Wimbledon), Federer (at 2015 Madrid) and Djokovic (at 2017 Acapulco). He’s holding strong against all of them (1-1, 1-1 and 2-0 respectively).
6. Nadal has won more matches than anyone this year. Nadal’s win over Fognini was his ATP-leading 30th match win of the year (he’s 30-5 overall and 30-2 against everyone other than Federer).
7. Nadal’s also won more clay court titles than any man in the Open Era. Monte Carlo and Barcelona were his 50th and 51st career clay court titles (Guillermo Vilas has the next-most with 49).
8. But Madrid is Nadal’s most vulnerable European clay court event. He’s won Monte Carlo 10 times, Barcelona 10 times, Rome seven times and Roland Garros nine times, but Madrid just four times (and, more relevantly, he’s won it just three times in the eight years since it switched to clay).
9. The winner of this match is guaranteed to play a Top 10 player in the quarters. The winner of Nadal and Kyrgios will face either World No.6 Milos Raonic or World No.10 David Goffin next.
10. You can watch this match live on Tennis Channel! Head to our TV Schedule page here.
And just to whet your appetite, here’s a taste of what their first two meetings were like: