Rafael Nadal is set to take on Australian Nick Kyrgios in the round of 16 of the Madrid Open later today and the Spaniard will be looking to progress to the next round as he looks to win his third title of the season. Nadal has dominated the clay court season so far by winning the Monte Carlo Masters followed by the Barcelona Open.
Nadal and Kyrgios have met on two occasions before with both players winning one match each. Their first meeting was in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2014 and a serving masterclass by Kyrgios resulted in a 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-3 for the Australian. Their second encounter was at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome and after Kyrgios won the first set, Nadal came back to win the match.
After a disappointing 2016, Nadal has been nothing short of outstanding in 2017 so far. The Spaniard lost in three finals this year, twice to Roger Federer, before winning his first title this year at the Monte Carlo Masters and he will be looking to continue that form for the remainder of the clay court season and the rest of the tennis season.
His opening match against Italian Fabio Fognini was delayed by a day as Nadal was given time to recover from an ear infection. Despite being far from his best against the Italian, Nadal fought hard to win the match. Fognini twice led by a break in the first set, and served for the set at 5-4, but he faltered at the line and went on to lose the set on a tie break. Nadal ended up losing the second set up fought back and claimed the third set.
Nadal is set to go up against Kyrgios in what is set to be the toughest test in the clay court so far this season. The Spaniard thinks his opponent is really good on clay and a very tough player.
"He's a very difficult opponent. He's one of the most difficult players you can play. It's true that I think on clay he's a very, very tough player... I have to play really well to be able to beat him. I think I'm ready to do that. We'll see what happens tomorrow. I don't know what's going to happen," Nadal said.
Kyrgios on the other hand thinks Nadal is the toughest opponent to face on clay and knows he is the underdog heading into their Madrid Open round of 16 match.
"I think he's the best clay-courter in the world, the greatest clay-courter of all-time. He's going to be a massive favourite. It's always going to be tough for any Australian to come play Rafa on clay but I feel if I play the right style of tennis and try and play and commit, I think I can do pretty well," Kyrgios said.
Kyrgios' best performance so far this year has been three semi-finals at Marseille, Mexican Open and the Miami Open. The Australian is highly regarded as one of the most promising tennis players in the world but has not been able to live up to his potential so far.
The Australian defeated Marcos Baghdatis in the first round Ryan Harrison in the next, both in straight sets, but he faces a completely different test against Nadal.
Where to watch
The round of 16 Madrid Open clash between Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios is set to start at 8:00pm local time, 11:30pm IST and 2:00pm EST.
TV and live streaming information
India: TV: Ten 3. Live Streaming: Sony Liv.
USA: TV: Tennis Channel. Live Streaming: Tennis Channel Live.
UK: TV: Sky Sports 5. Live streaming: Sky Go.
Global live stream: Live tennis.