Rafael Nadal survived a test from Nick Kyrgios to move into the Australian Open quarter-finals with a four-set win on Monday.

The world number one was pushed by Kyrgios on Rod Laver Arena before completing a 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) victory after three hours, 38 minutes in the fourth round.

Nadal produced the strong performance he needed to overcome the talented Australian, who warmed up in a Kobe Bryant jersey to honour the Los Angeles Lakers great following his death on Sunday.

The Spaniard remains on track to match Roger Federer's men's record of 20 grand slam titles after reaching a 41st major quarter-final and 12th in Melbourne, where Dominic Thiem awaits.

Nadal would land the first blow of a high-quality start in the fourth game.

Highlighted by a ripping forehand passing winner, Nadal broke for 3-1 in an error-riddled game by Kyrgios, including two poor drop shots.

The first set belonged to Nadal in slightly windy conditions, the single break and 14 winners helping him take it in 36 minutes.

Nadal was booed as he made Kyrgios wait to start the second set before the latter saved three break points in the opening game.

The importance of that hold was amplified when Kyrgios, pumping up the crowd after setting up break point, produced a forehand winner down the line to take a 3-1 lead.

Facing some pressure at 30-30 serving for the set, the 24-year-old delivered two huge aces to level the match.

No early blow was forthcoming in the third set, a brave drop shot from Kyrgios seeing him save a break point in the eighth game.

A tense tie-break followed, Kyrgios and Nadal trading double faults from 5-5 before a forehand error from the Australian – who also broke a racquet – gave his opponent the set.

Coming off his epic five-setter against Karen Khachanov, Kyrgios looked beaten when he was broken to love following a double fault in the third game of the fourth set.

To his credit, Kyrgios hung in there, breaking back when Nadal was serving for the match in the 10th game, much to the appreciation of the Rod Laver crowd.

Kyrgios dug himself out of a 15-40 hole in the following game as another tie-break followed, a terrible drop shot handing Nadal a 5-3 lead he would not relinquish before the pair shared a respectful handshake at the net amid what has been a frosty relationship.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN  
Rafael Nadal [1] bt Nick Kyrgios [23] 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4)

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS  
Nadal – 64/27
Kyrgios – 50/43

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS  
Nadal – 12/4
Kyrgios – 25/5

BREAK POINTS WON  
Nadal – 2/9
Kyrgios – 2/3

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
Nadal – 65
Kyrgios – 75 

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
Nadal – 85/64
Kyrgios – 73/37

TOTAL POINTS  
Nadal – 147
Kyrgios – 124

Nick Kyrgios paid tribute to Kobe Bryant before his Australian Open fourth-round clash with Rafael Nadal on Monday.

The Australian, a huge basketball fan, wore a Los Angeles Lakers jersey with the number eight Bryant made famous to begin his career.

A visibly emotional Kyrgios received a fine ovation as he entered Rod Laver Arena in the jersey.

Lakers great Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

The sporting world celebrated and mourned Bryant after his shock death.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were among the football stars paying their respects, while the NBA world mourned Bryant's passing.

It is getting to the business end of the Australian Open for Roger Federer, who meets Tennys Sandgren in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Federer banished the demons of last year's shock fourth-round exit by topping Marton Fucsovics in Melbourne on Sunday.

A 20-time grand slam winner and six-time champion at Melbourne Park, Swiss maestro Federer is eyeing his first major title since the 2018 Australian Open.

As Federer prepares for the last eight, we look at the 38-year-old's form.

 

Form and results

Like his five-setter with John Millman, Federer dropped the opening set against Fucsovics on Sunday. However, third seed Federer managed to avoid going the distance as he steamrolled his unheralded Hungarian opponent in two hours, 11 minutes. The veteran used 44 winners to vanquish Fucsovics under the Rod Laver Arena lights.

R1: bt Johnson 6-3 6-2 6-2
R2: bt Krajinovic 6-1 6-4 6-1
R3: bt Millman 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 4-6 7-6 (10-8)
R4: bt Fucsovics 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2

Next up

Sandgren finds himself in a familiar position. The 28-year-old will contest his second Australian Open quarter-final following his 2018 run. Sandgren upstaged 12th seed Fabio Fognini in four sets on Sunday. This will be the first meeting between Sandgren and Federer.

Draw

A blockbuster semi-final against defending champion Novak Djokovic is on the horizon for Federer. Djokovic must see off Milos Raonic to make that happen. The iconic pair played out a remarkable Wimbledon final, won by Djokovic, last year.

What he said

"I'm very happy how I'm feeling considering my age, considering everything I've gone through throughout my career. The toughness of the first real tough match of the season for me after having not played these kinds of matches for some time, it's nice to see that the work I did in the off-season paid off."

Novak Djokovic's form is ominous as the Australian Open champion prepares to face Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

After a wobble in the opening round, second seed Djokovic has dominated his last three opponents en route to an 11th quarter-final appearance at Melbourne Park.

Eyeing a record-extending eighth Australian Open title, Djokovic once again looms as the player to beat in Melbourne.

We take a closer look at Djokovic as the 16-time grand slam champion prepares to meet 32nd seed Raonic on Rod Laver Arena.

Form and results

Stop Djokovic if you can. The world number two swept aside 14th seed Diego Schwartzman on Sunday. While the Argentinian proved a tougher test than Tatsuma Ito and Yoshihito Nishioka, Djokovic was far superior in the Melbourne sun. Hitting 38 winners and 31 unforced errors, the Serbian star closed out proceedings in just over two hours.

R1: bt Struff 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 2-6 6-1
R2: bt Ito 6-1 6-4 6-2
R3: bt Nishioka 6-3 6-2 6-2
R4: bt Schwartzman 6-3 6-4 6-4

Next up

Former world number three Raonic stands in the way of Djokovic and another trip to the semi-finals - a repeat of the 2015 quarter-final clash in Melbourne. Raonic blitzed Marin Cilic in straight sets to advance on Sunday. However, the Canadian's 0-9 record against Djokovic is a concern.

Draw

It is the match everyone is dreaming of. Djokovic against 20-time slam winner Roger Federer in the semis. That mouthwatering showdown could happen if Djokovic maintains his perfect record against Raonic and Federer gets past Tennys Sandgren.

What he said

"It obviously helps when you have a success on a global level. Of course, it has a very positive impact in your country. Serbia didn't really have a successful or long tennis tradition, before [Slobodan] Zivojinovic and Monica Seles. That was probably the first generation of successful tennis players coming from our country."

Roger Federer is preparing to face an enigma when he tackles Tennys Sandgren in the Australian Open quarter-finals, and the American even admits: "Maybe I shouldn't be here."

Sandgren is the world number 100 but has an unusually strong record against top-10 opponents, scoring wins over Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, Fabio Fognini and, earlier in this tournament, Matteo Berrettini.

The 28-year-old from Tennessee only made his grand slam main-draw debut in 2017 and is, by modern tennis standards, a late developer.

In 2014, he lost a Challenger Tour match to Britain's Marcus Willis, who famously chomped on a chocolate bar and sipped a cola drink rather than elect for snacks more usually associated with professional sport stars.

That match was highlighted, raking up bad memories for Sandgren, when Willis made a name for himself in 2016 at Wimbledon, the genial home player taking on Federer in a highly entertaining but one-sided second-round match on Centre Court.

Now, though, it is Sandgren's turn to tackle the 20-time grand slam winner, and their clash should be competitive.

"I wonder why he's not ranked higher, to be honest," Federer said of Sandgren. "Every time I see him play, I feel like he plays very well. He's got a lot of stuff in his game that [means] he's deserving of being higher.

"I'm looking forward to that match because I've seen him play a lot but never played him."

Sandgren repeated his 2019 Wimbledon win over Fognini to sink the Italian's hopes over four sets in Melbourne on Sunday, and Federer took the chance to watch, predicting "a tough one" next.

For his part, Federer overcame a sluggish start to see off Marton Fucsovics 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2, with any effects of his late-night battle with John Millman in the third round seemingly shaken off.

Sandgren was asked why he has shown himself capable of doing well on the big occasion.

"Maybe because I haven't had that many," Sandgren said. "Maybe I haven't had that many looks or wasn't supposed to.

"Maybe I shouldn't be here. The fact that I am, I get kind of amped up. I want to perform. I want to do well. I don't want to take the time on the court for granted.

"Getting to play in a big stadium, getting to play in front of a lot of people, because I've played a lot of tennis in front of very few people, that seems to bring out the best tennis in me."

Sandgren's big shot is his serve, as Federer has observed.

The Swiss has taken down many a player with a booming serve in the past, yet he has also been struck by other areas of Sandgren's game, saying: "He can counter-punch but also likes to go on the attack."

Sandgren spoke of how he spent his early years in tennis "not sniffing these opportunities" and claimed: "There are better players than me that I played with in Futures and Challengers that have stopped playing because they just ran out of money or got injured.

"There's definitely a world where it didn't work out [for me]. Some of the margins were pretty small for me to have some of these opportunities. I definitely don't take it for granted."

He was also reminded of the Willis match, which took place on an indoor court in front of a spartan crowd.

"I did not feel great after that one. He downed an RC Cola and a Snickers and took me out," Sandgren recalled. "I had a few of those where it's like, 'What are you doing? Is this ever going to be worthwhile?'"

Juan Martin del Potro will undergo knee surgery on Monday after a previous operation failed to rid him of pain, leaving the former US Open winner struggling even to walk up stairs.

The injury-blighted Argentinian suffered a fracture of his right kneecap at Queen's Club last June, a repeat of an injury he suffered in Shanghai in October 2018.

He had hoped to return to action before the end of 2019, but initial surgery did not bring results to the extent Del Potro had hoped, and he has not been able to return to the tennis circuit.

A statement from his communication team declared on Sunday that Del Potro, absent from the ongoing Australian Open, would have an operation in Miami.

The statement said 31-year-old Del Potro had taken advice from doctors in Argentina, Europe and the United States, with the majority of verdicts determining "a new intervention" in his right knee was required.

"After analysing the options, Delpo trusted Dr Lee Kaplan to perform the surgery scheduled for Monday, January 27th in Miami," the statement said.

"We hope that this is the definitive solution to eliminate the pain that not only has prevented Delpo from playing tennis, but also making it difficult for him to perform daily activities."

The statement added that pain has endured through Del Potro's attempts to get back on court, preventing him "from running and jumping, and even activities such as walking up stairs".

Del Potro, one of the most popular players with crowds on the men's tour, hoped to have been back in competition by last October.

His camp thanked well-wishers for their patience, as the statement added: "The situation is never easy when it comes to the physique of an athlete and, more importantly, the health of a person."

Tennys Sandgren will play Roger Federer in the Australian Open quarter-finals after beating Fabio Fognini in a tense affair on Sunday.

The American triumphed in four sets - three of which went to tie-breaks - to knock out the 12th seed and book a meeting with Federer, who dispatched Marton Fucsovics after a nervy start.

There were few signs of the jitters for Novak Djokovic against Diego Schwartzman, while Milos Raonic's relentless serving strength saw him power past 2018 finalist Marin Cilic.

Canadian Raonic said he felt "pretty damn good" after a straight-sets win that included 35 aces, although he admitted he will need even more to beat defending champion Djokovic next.

 

SANDGREN FIGHTS THROUGH FOGNINI FRUSTRATION

Sandgren traded winners and barbs with Fabio Fognini before prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 to seal his second Australian open quarter-final berth.

Tempers frayed across four entertaining sets on Melbourne Arena, with the American becoming upset at his opponent's stalling tactics.

Fognini, the 12th seed, argued with the umpire, took a lengthy bathroom break and asked for a medical timeout to treat blisters all before the third set, leading Sandgren frustrated.

"He gets his own rules because you're afraid to step on his toes," the world number 100 told the umpire after taking the opener.

Sandgren, who lost to Chung Hyeon in the last eight two years ago, regained his composure and went on to complete the upset in three hours and 27 minutes.

FEDERER FINDS FORM AFTER EARLY WOBBLE

Federer seemed to be feeling the effects of his epic five-set victory over John Millman as Fucsovics took an early lead on Rod Laver Arena.

However, the 38-year-old recovered in supreme style and seemed somewhere close to his best tennis at the end of a 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 victory.

As the full repertoire of shots from Federer began to paint the lines, Fucsovics had little response.

The 20-time major champion is now looking forward to a first meeting with Sandgren. "I have played a lot of tennis in my life, but never against Tennys," he said.

DJOKOVIC POWERS PAST SCHWARTZMAN

Djokovic produced another dominant display to dismantle Schwartzman 6-3 6-4 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena, where the world number two kept his title hopes alive.

While Schwartzman fought hard, it was another routine outing for Djokovic - who reached his 11th Australian Open quarter-final.

Djokovic was broken for the first time since the opening round but was never really in danger, hitting 38 winners and 31 unforced errors.

"Today was a good test because Diego was in form, he hasn't dropped a set in three rounds," the Serbian said afterwards.

"Obviously he can be a very dangerous opponent from the baseline if you give him time. I knew that. I stepped out on the court with a clear game plan what I need to do."

RAONIC TAKES DOWN CILIC

It rained aces as 32nd seed and former world number three Raonic beat former runner-up Cilic 6-4 6-3 7-5.

Raonic progressed to his fifth quarter-final in Melbourne after firing down 35 aces and winning all of his service games in two hours and 19 minutes.

His reward? A showdown with Serbian superstar Djokovic, who boasts a dominant 9-0 head-to-head record.

"I'm going to have to serve well clearly, and then I think I'm going to have to get my return at a high percentage, make him play a lot of those points, and then try to be efficient on my service games," Raonic said in his news conference.

"I think we play quite opposite from each other, and he's done a good job in the past neutralising my serve. So I have really got to focus on my things well and be the one dictating."

Roger Federer again recovered from a poor opening set to progress to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday.

The 20-time grand slam champion lifted his game after a sluggish start to beat Marton Fucsovics 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.

Federer battled back from the brink in round three to defeat John Millman in a final-set tie-break, and many were left wondering whether playing more than four hours and finishing at 0048 local time on Friday would take its toll.

He certainly seemed several steps off the pace in a lacklustre first set, but Federer duly responded to produce some of his best tennis of the tournament to claim his 101st Australian Open match win against the world number 67.

Federer will face Tennys Sandgren in the last eight, with a semi-final showdown against Novak Djokovic still on the horizon.

Too many wayward shots saw Federer give up the first set to Millman, and Sunday's match followed a similar pattern as Fucsovics threatened an upset.

The Hungarian appeared untroubled by the Federer backhand slice and looked comfortable when trading blows from the baseline before breaking in game seven after a series of errors from the Swiss.

With the crowd clearly left uneasy by his pedestrian start, Federer raced into control of the second set, holding to love and breaking for the first time when Fucsovics sent a forehand long.

Having survived a scare on serve, Federer moved 5-1 ahead after a useful net cord before serving out the set with more customary precision.

By now in full flow, Federer began the third with a showcase of his variety, a thumping winner and a sublime drop shot - both from the backhand - teeing up a break that Fucsovics handed to him with a foolhardy slice.

Two break points came and went for Fucsovics after a brilliant Federer forehand yielded the most emphatic fist-pump of the evening from the 38-year-old, whose movement across the court belied the marathon match he played just 48 hours earlier.

Fucsovics did move back to 4-2 after a loose game from Federer, but he mistakenly let a mishit lob land on the line to hand back another break, and the six-time champion closed out with a crisp volley.

With everything falling into place for Federer - he was even four from four on Hawk-Eye challenges - Fucsovics lost heart as a first double fault of the match and some overhit ground strokes left him 2-5 down.

Fucsovics had seemed troubled by the tension of his racket strings as the evening waned, but there was no such anxiety within the packed crowd, the roars a fitting way to end Australia Day as Fucsovics sent a forehand into the net on the third match point.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Roger Federer [3] bt Marton Fucsovics 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 
Federer – 44/36
Fucsovics – 15/35

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 
Federer – 5/0
Fucsovics – 1/1

BREAK POINTS WON 
Federer – 7/12
Fucsovics – 2/9

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE 
Federer – 61
Fucsovics – 47

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE 
Federer – 76/53
Fucsovics – 57/53

TOTAL POINTS 
Federer – 109
Fucsovics – 83

Novak Djokovic said he is growing in confidence after the Australian Open champion dominated en route to the quarter-finals on Sunday.

Djokovic is bidding to win a record-extending eighth Norman Brooks Challenge Cup in Melbourne and the 16-time grand slam champion remains on track to add to his collection following a 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory over 14th seed Diego Schwartzman.

It was Djokovic's third consecutive straight-sets win at Melbourne Park, where the Serbian second seed reached his 11th Australian Open quarter-final.

After hitting 38 winners in just over two hours on Rod Laver Arena, Djokovic told reporters:  "It feels great. I had a fantastic couple of matches in a row, centre court, last two rounds. I felt more confident going through the ball, hitting serves really well.

"Today was a good test because Diego was in form, he hasn't dropped a set in three rounds. Obviously he can be a very dangerous opponent from the baseline if you give him time. I knew that. I stepped out on the court with a clear game plan what I need to do. 

"I think I kept things pretty much in control in all three sets. Maybe could have finished the match a bit earlier. But it was a very solid performance."

Next up for Djokovic is 32nd seed and former world number three Milos Raonic, who beat Marin Cilic in three sets on Sunday.

Djokovic has dominated Raonic, boasting a flawless 9-0 head-to-head record, which includes a quarter-final victory at the 2015 Australian Open.

Asked to compare Raonic with fellow big servers John Isner and Karlovic, Djokovic replied: "I feel like Raonic moves better than Isner and Karlovic. I mean, he's not as tall as these two guys. They're 6'10" or something, two metres 10. They're the tallest players to ever play tennis.

"Obviously it's a huge advantage when you hit serves from that height. You can hit any angle, anything you really want. That puts a lot of pressure on your opponent. But that also has some disadvantages in terms of movement. If the returner gets the ball back in play, then I think Raonic is better than these two guys. 

"But I feel like maybe you could read his serve better than Isner and Karlovic. I don't want to say it's slightly slower, but just a little bit of a different toss, different technique. You can probably get some looks at second serves or breakpoints and stuff like this maybe a bit more than the other two guys. It's such a minor difference that you don't really notice it so much. But on the court it makes a big difference."

Australian Open champion and second seed Novak Djokovic reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne for the 11th time after seeing off Diego Schwartzman in straight sets.

Djokovic - eyeing a record-extending eighth Australian Open title - powered through to his 46th grand slam quarter-final courtesy of Sunday's 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory.

The 16-time slam champion produced another dominant performance in just over two hours on Rod Laver Arena, setting up a meeting with 32nd seed Milos Raonic - a rematch of the 2015 last-eight meeting at Melbourne Park.

Djokovic - boasting a 3-0 head-to-head record against Schwartzman - barely raised a sweat in the second and third rounds, cruising past Japanese opponents Tatsuma Ito and Yoshihito Nishioka.

It was a sterner test against 14th seed Schwartzman, who made Djokovic earn his points in a contest showcasing powerful baseline rallies.

The set was on serve until Schwartzman double-faulted in the eighth game to open the door for Djokovic and the Serb star fired an inch-perfect winner down the line to bring up the first break point. He converted to snap Schwartzman's stubborn resistance for a 5-3 lead.

Djokovic muttered to himself in frustration and then double-faulted in a tense ninth game but he left the scrambling Schwartzman on the floor as he closed it out after 38 minutes.

Cracks started to appear in Schwartzman's performance as Djokovic broke to start the second set and again in the third game - the Argentinian fading until he claimed one of the breaks back in the fourth.

It was the first time Djokovic had been broken since his opening-round win over Jan-Lennard Struff, having saved one break point against Nishioka after not facing one on court with Ito.

Schwartzman battled but Djokovic was not to be denied a two-sets-to-love lead, a position he had never lost from at the Australian Open with a 55-0 record prior to Sunday, and the latter preserved that perfect record after breaking in the fifth game of the final set and never looking back.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Novak Djokovic [2] bt Diego Schwartzman [14] 6-3 6-4 6-4

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 
Djokovic – 38/31
Schwartzman – 17/29

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 
Djokovic – 8/1
Schwartzman – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON 
Djokovic – 4/8
Schwartzman – 1/3

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE 
Djokovic – 64
Schwartzman – 56

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE 
Djokovic – 75/68
Schwartzman – 62/49

TOTAL POINTS 
Djokovic – 101
Schwartzman – 74

It is safe to say 19-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal and outspoken Australian Nick Kyrgios are not friends.

Their feud stems back to February last year and shows no signs of subsiding ahead of Monday's last-16 showdown at the Australian Open.

As the pair renew hostilities in Melbourne, we look at the timeline of events that has led to tennis' biggest feud.

 

February 2019 - Sparks fly in Acapulco​

Kyrgios' first meeting with Nadal was at the All England Club in 2014 - the then-19-year-old Kyrgios stunning the two-time Wimbledon champion to reach the quarter-finals.

However, their Mexican Open date five years later changed things completely. Kyrgios took down Nadal in the second round en route to winning the ATP Tour tournament. Kyrgios was at his brilliant and menacing best, rallying from a set down, saving three match points and attempting underarm serves. He also complained that Nadal was taking too long to serve.

Afterwards, Nadal told reporters: "He's a player who has enormous talent, could be winning grand slams or fighting for the number one ranking. He lacks respect for the crowd, his opponent and towards himself… I don't think he's a bad guy, but he lacks a little respect for the public and the rival."

Kyrgios responded by saying: "He doesn't know anything about me. So, I'm not going to listen at all. That's the way I play. The way he plays is very slow in between points. The rule in the book says he has to pay to the speed of the server, but Rafa has his speed every time, so I'm not going to comment on him. He's got his own game. I've got my game. We played well. That's the sport. People are different so I'm not going to take that into consideration at all."

March 2019 - Uncle Toni takes aim at Kyrgios

At Indian Wells, Nadal tried to quell what he said, but his uncle Toni reignited the fire as he got involved.

In an interview with Radio Marca, Toni Nadal said: "Rafa is totally right. He [Kyrgios] lacks education and smartness. He should be fighting for the top rankings and instead, he is number 40. He does not look like a bad guy but he has been disrespectful too many times to get back on track."

May 2019 - Kyrgios returns serve as war of words continue

Never one to sit back and hold fire, Kyrgios responded in his appearance on podcast 'No Challenges Remaining' as the maligned Australian ruffled feathers ahead of the French Open.

Describing Nadal as "salty", the unfiltered Kyrgios told tennis writer Ben Rothenberg: "When he wins, it's fine. He won't say anything bad, he'll credit the opponent, 'He was a great player'. But as soon as I beat him, it's just like, 'He has no respect for me, my fans and no respect to the game'.

"It's not a good look for you, I feel. And then uncle Toni came out saying, 'He lacks education'. I'm like, 'Bra [brother], I did 12 years at school, you idiot. I'm very educated. I understand that you're upset I beat your family again'."

July 2019 - Kyrgios and Nadal reunite at Wimbledon

Fans and pundits were licking their lips when Kyrgios and Nadal went head-to-head in the second round of Wimbledon. Nadal emerged triumphant in four sets after an eventful and tense battle. Kyrgios served underarm, received a code violation for unsportsmanlike behaviour and hit the unimpressed Nadal with a powerful forehand.

Asked if he regretted not apologising for hitting Nadal, Kyrgios responded: "Why would I apologise?… I didn't hit him. Hit his racquet, no? Why would I apologise? I won the point."

"I don't care. Why would I apologise? I mean, the dude has got how many slams, how much money in the bank account? I think he can take a ball to the chest, bro. I'm not going to apologise to him at all," Kyrgios added.

"I was going for him. Yeah, I wanted to hit him square in the chest. Like, he's got decent hands."

January 2020 - Kyrgios impersonates Nadal as tension builds

Fast forward to the Australian Open and Kyrgios has already added more spice to a tasty fourth-round matchup. Kyrgios impersonated Nadal as he was called for a time violation during his win against Gilles Simon in the second round at Melbourne Park.

When asked if he liked Kyrgios following Saturday's routine victory over Pablo Carreno Busta, Nadal's response was telling. "I don't know. I don't know him personally, honestly, to have a clear opinion," Nadal told reporters. "It's clear, of course, that when he does stuff that in my opinion is not good, I don't like. 

"When he plays good tennis and he shows passion for this game, he is a positive player for our tour, and I want my tour bigger, not smaller. So the players who make the tour bigger are important for the tour. When he's ready to play his best tennis and play with passion, is one of these guys. When he's doing the other stuff, of course I don't like."

After earning a date with Nadal courtesy of a marathon five-setter, Kyrgios said in a news conference: "At the end of the day, we're two different tennis players. We go about it completely different… Regardless, if we don't like each other or whatever, I think there's a layer of respect. He's one of the greatest of all time. 

"I also read that he thinks I'm good for the sport. There's a layer of respect that we both have for each other. Doesn't necessarily mean we like each other, but we're going to go out there and give contrasting styles and personalities.

"I don't really know Rafa. I've never hung out with him or anything like that. So I don't really know how he is. I don't really dislike him. I don't know him at all. Hell of a tennis player. Don't know him as a person. I'm sure he's okay."

Tennis' biggest feud takes centre stage when world number one Rafael Nadal clashes with Nick Kyrgios in the last 16 at the Australian Open on Monday.

Nadal and Australian star Kyrgios have been outspoken in their opinion of each other amid a fractured relationship, stemming from last year's Mexican Open.

Rod Laver Arena will play host to the blockbuster showdown, with Nadal looking to maintain his charge towards a record-equalling 20th grand slam title.

We take a closer look at Nadal as the 33-year-old prepares for the fourth round at Melbourne Park.

 

Form and results

Nadal has barely raised a sweat in the opening week of the tournament, but he took his game to a new level against Davis Cup team-mate Pablo Carreno Busta on Saturday. Nadal's relentless power and precision left his countryman helpless on Rod Laver Arena, where the top seed hit 42 winners and just seven unforced errors. It was also the 47th time Nadal advanced to the fourth round at a major.

R1: bt Dellien 6-2 6-3 6-0
R2: bt Delbonis 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-1
R3: bt Carreno Busta 6-1 6-2 6-4

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It is the showdown everyone wanted – Nadal v 23rd seed Kyrgios amid their frosty relationship and feud. Maligned Australian Kyrgios earned his ticket to the last 16 the hard way via a marathon five-set contest against Karen Khachanov. Kyrgios coughed up a two-sets-to-love lead before finally overcoming 16th seed Khachanov after four hours, 26 minutes on Saturday.

Draw

A rematch of last year's US Open final could be on the horizon. If Nadal gets past Kyrgios and then either fifth seed Dominic Thiem or 10th seed Gael Monfils in the quarter-finals, Flushing Meadows runner-up Daniil Medvedev might stand in the way of the Spaniard and back-to-back Australian Open finals. Nadal overcame Medvedev in a memorable five-setter in New York.

What he said

"Every day is a different story. But, of course, it's important to make steps forward. It's clear that I made an important one [on Saturday]."

Nick Kyrgios believes a layer of respect exists between himself and Rafael Nadal but would not go as far as saying he likes the world number one ahead of their Australian Open meeting.

After both players won their third-round matches on Saturday, they will do battle in the pick of the fourth-round ties on Monday.

Nadal cruised to a 6-1 6-2 6-4 win over fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, while Kyrgios overcame Karen Khachanov 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (6-8) 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (10-8) in an incredibly close contest lasting four hours and 26 minutes.

Kyrgios has won three of his seven meetings against Nadal in a rivalry that stepped up a gear at last year's Mexican Open when words were exchanged after a match the Australian won.

After his straightforward win in Melbourne, Nadal said he was unsure whether he likes the 24-year-old, though conceded his involvement in the sport can benefit the ATP Tour.

When it was Kyrgios' turn to face reporters, he referenced the duo's battle at Wimbledon last year, which Nadal won in four close sets.

"Last time I played him was at Wimbledon," said Kyrgios. "We had a pretty good match, 7-6 in the fourth set. 

"At the end of the day, we're two different tennis players. We go about it completely different. After Wimbledon, I lost, I got beaten by the better player. 

"I shook his hand, looked him in the eye, and said, 'Too good'. Regardless, if we don't like each other or whatever, I think there's a layer of respect. He's one of the greatest of all time. 

"I also read that he thinks I'm good for the sport. There's a layer of respect that we both have for each other. Doesn't necessarily mean we like each other, but we're going to go out there and give contrasting styles and personalities.

"I don't really know Rafa. I've never hung out with him or anything like that. So I don't really know how he is. I don't really dislike him. I don't know him at all. Hell of a tennis player. Don't know him as a person. I'm sure he's okay."

Kyrgios believes Nadal will have a physical advantage after having an easier route through to the last 16 but is not overly concerned, also saying his hamstring is better after he felt it against Khachanov.

He added: "Physically I think I'll be fine. I have a whole day off [Sunday]. Get some rest after this, do all the right things. I'm super excited honestly. Playing one of the greatest tennis players on center court at your own slam, it's pretty damn cool.

"I've got a lot of time between now and then. Obviously it's going to be another physical battle.

"Nothing comes easy with him. He had a relatively routine match, so he's going to be feeling good. I'm looking forward to it. That's why you play, I guess."

Kyrgios has a 2-1 record against Nadal on hard courts, and continued: "Ever since juniors I enjoyed playing lefties. 

"I feel like I kind of know what game plan I need to bring to be successful against them. 

"Rafa is a different beast altogether. I kind of know his patterns. Everyone knows his patterns, can't do anything about it. Federer knows his patterns. Everyone knows his patterns. He executes them at the highest level. 

"I feel good. Like I feel like my game is ready to go. But it was crazy [against Khachanov]. I don't think the emotions have died down at all."

Nick Kyrgios emerged triumphant in a dramatic five-set clash with Karen Khachanov despite struggling with a hamstring injury, booking a highly anticipated meeting with Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

After passing up match points in the third and fourth sets, home favourite Kyrgios came out on top in the longest match of his career by beating Khachanov 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (6-8) 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (10-8) at a raucous Melbourne Arena in four hours, 26 minutes.

Top seed Nadal beat fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-1 6-2 6-4 in one hour, 38 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, while US Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev overcame Alexei Popyrin 6-4 6-3 6-2 and will face Stan Wawrinka in the last 16.

The Swiss advanced after John Isner retired while 6-4 4-1 down, with Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Gael Monfils joining him in round round four.

 

CROCKED KYRGIOS CLINGS ON

Kyrgios started confidently against Khachanov and, despite taking a medical time-out at 5-2 up in the first set, managed to edge a second-set tie-break while continuing to grip at the back of his leg.

However, he was unable to repeat the trick at the second time of asking and became increasingly frustrated as the Russian wrested control of the match away from him.

Kyrgios appeared to be struggling for motivation at points and became increasingly vocal, but he hung in to take the victory to the delight of his fervent supporters.

The Australian has a strained relationship with Nadal, who he described as "salty" after their meeting at last year's Mexican Open and impersonated after being called for a time violation while serving against Gilles Simon in round two.

Asked about going up against the 19-time major champion in his on-court interview, Kyrgios said: "Whatever happened between us he's an amazing player. I'm not even thinking about that right now, I'm thinking about my legs and getting them in an ice bath and getting some food."

 

NO STOPPING NADAL

Nadal was at his imperious best against Carreno Busta, winning 87 per cent and 78 per cent of points behind his first and second serve respectively, while also smashing 41 winners – twice as many as his opponent.

"It was my best match of the tournament so far, without a doubt. Big difference between today and the previous days. I have been serving well, starting to create damage with the forehand," said Nadal.

"Every day is a different story. But, of course, it's important to make steps forward. It's clear that today I made an important one."

Asked if he likes Kyrgios, Nadal said: "I don't know. I don't know him personally, honestly, to have a clear opinion."

 

RUBLEV ROLLS ON

Rublev started 2020 with titles at the Qatar Open and Brisbane International and has continued his fine form at Melbourne Park.

The world number 16's 2-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 7-6 (7-4) triumph over David Goffin was his 15th match win in succession, four of which came in the Davis Cup Finals.

Rublev had wobbles after taking big leads in both tie-breaks, but Goffin made 27 unforced errors in the last two sets to help the Russian progress to a meeting with Zverev.

Seventh seed Zverev is yet to drop a set at Melbourne Park after overcoming Fernando Verdasco 6-2 6-2 6-4.

 

"IT'S A DISGRACE"

After beating qualifier Ernests Gulbis 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-3 to set up a fourth-round meeting with Dominic Thiem – who overcame 29th seed Taylor Fritz 6-2 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 – Monfils refuted a report claiming excessively playing video games led to him suffering a hand injury.

"You know, as I say, it's misunderstanding with people. I say this in a funny way, to be honest, but it's a disgrace, to be honest with you, because I'm fine," Monfils told reporters in a news conference.

"I'm in the second week, playing great tennis. I think it's just someone who, I don't know, try to — you know, I played ATP Cup, was fine. I practiced here for one month. I was really fine.

"I never said I was hurt. Somehow, you know, playing PlayStation, this? Come on. And it's easy, because I think I'm a good name to make up good story like that. Now you know."

Gael Monfils refuted a report claiming too much PlayStation was behind a hand injury after the French 10th seed progressed at the Australian Open.  

Monfils showed no sign of injury as he moved through to the fourth round at Melbourne Park thanks to Saturday's 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-3 victory over qualifier Ernests Gulbis.

Afterwards, Monfils was asked about his hand and fitness following a report citing video games, and the 33-year-old entertainer took aim at the media.

"You know, as I say, it's misunderstanding with people. I say this in a funny way, to be honest, but it's a disgrace, to be honest with you, because I'm fine," Monfils told reporters in a news conference.

"I'm in the second week, playing great tennis. I think it's just someone who, I don't know, try to — you know, I played ATP Cup, was fine. I practiced here for one month. I was really fine.

"I never said I was hurt. Somehow, you know, playing PlayStation, this? Come on. And it's easy, because I think I'm a good name to make up good story like that. Now you know."

Monfils will face fifth seed Dominic Thiem for a place in the Australian Open quarter-finals for the second time in his career.

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