Wimbledon 2022: Toni Nadal blames Stefanos Tsitsipas for Nick Kyrgios spat

Rafael Nadal has criticised Nick Kyrgios in the past but the Spaniard’s uncle and mentor says this time he’s not to blame.

Rafael Nadal’s uncle and former coach, Toni Nadal, says Nick Kyrgios can be “annoying” at times but pointed the finger at Stefanos Tsitsipas for how their dramatic third-round match at Wimbledon panned out.

The Aussie star demanded Tsitsipas be defaulted for hitting a ball into the crowd while the world No. 5 repeatedly tried to hit Kyrgios in the body from close range as he complained to the umpire about his behaviour.

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Tsitsipas called his rival a “bully” with an “evil side” to him while Kyrgios rejected the accusations and said the Greek star was “soft”.

Kyrgios is on a collision course with Nadal in the semi-finals if the pair win their next matches, which would reignite their feud. The Canberran has regularly criticised Nadal for his slow play while the Spaniard has called out Kyrgios for being disrespectful.

Writing an opinion piece for Spanish site, Toni Nadal — who now coaches Canadian star Felix Auger-Aliassime — acknowledged he has disapproved of Kyrgios’ antics in the past but said Tsitsipas needs to accept responsibility for losing his cool — then losing the match.

“On some occasions, I have been critical of the Australian as a result of his rudeness, his unsportsmanlike attitudes, his recurrent outbursts or his unfortunate comments,” he wrote.

“On this occasion, however, I think the blunder … is attributable to the Greek.

“It is true that Kyrgios is too annoying, provocative and that he can easily drive his opponents out of their mind. However, I was greatly surprised Tsitsipas couldn’t deal with those situations.

“It is clear that Tsitsipas acted to his own detriment, lacking in the habit of dealing with those situations in which a player feels … unable to control his emotions and his nervousness.”

Kyrgios beat American Brandon Nakashima in five sets on Tuesday (AEST), shrugging off a shoulder complaint to march into the quarter-finals, where he’ll face Chilean Cristian Garin.

The 27-year-old looked to be in trouble when Nakashima broke for 4-3 in the fourth then took the set, but the Aussie rallied in the decider, passing the 100-ace mark for the tournament and breaking twice to secure the win.

Kyrgios, who needed regular physio treatment, hammered 79 winners, including 35 aces.

The last time the 40th-ranked player reached the last eight at a major was at the Australian Open in 2015, a year after he reached the same stage on his debut at the All England Club.

But he is seen as a major threat to Nadal, whom he beat on his way to the quarter-finals in 2014.

Kyrgios said he was trying to stay “in the moment”.

“I’m not thinking about lifting a trophy or making semi-finals or making the final,” he said.

“I’m just thinking about my habits every day, just trying to put in a good performance on the court, then put in a good practice session, try to stay positive, try to really separate.

“You know, once I’m off the court, enjoy time with my team, my girlfriend, and just really enjoy that, then get into the game mode.”

Nadal, chasing a rare calendar Grand Slam, started his campaign at the All England Club slowly but is now in the groove as he hunts a third Wimbledon crown.

He showed no mercy to Dutch 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp in their clash on Centre Court, overcoming a late wobble to seal a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) win.

“I think I continued in a positive way until the end where I played a bad game,” said the Spanish second seed.

“In a personal way, for me to be able to be in quarter-finals after three years (away from Wimbledon) it’s amazing for me so very, very happy.”

With AFP

Originally published as Toni Nadal says ‘rude, annoying’ Kyrgios not to blame for Wimbledon uproar

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