Every Nadal fan was quick to note what quarter of the draw  Nick Kyrgios (AUS) was in when the draw came out. And every Nadal fan cringed when they saw that he was in Nadal’s quarter. Despite leading their head-to-head 4:3 coming into this match, Nadal and his team were fully aware of the threat that Kyrgios poses when he steps on the court and is fully committed to the match.
Did the advantage go to the player who won the first set? Not really, as Kyrgios can play from any position and win when he if fully engaged in the match, which he seems to be whenever he plays the top guys. It was probably beneficial to Nadal to win the first set and allow him to feel somewhat more relaxed against a very difficult opponent; yet, Nadal lost to the Aussie after winning the first set in Acapulco last year, so he knew not to get too comfortable.
Kyrgios Fights Back To Even The Match
Nadal hurt his chances for an easier victory in the second set when he failed to capitalize on his three break point opportunities. Kyrgios on the other hand, quickly took advantage of his only break chance and that was all he needed to secure the second set and put all the pressure squarely back on the shoulders of the Spaniard. The match was even, and it could have gone either way from this point.
Nadal again had a chance to perhaps minimize the physical and mental toll, but Kyrgios knows how to serve big and hit big when he needs to. The third set went to a tiebreak, that much to the surprise of his fans, Nadal won. All Nadal fans collectively breathed a sigh of relief once he had secured the third set and we got excited when he took the early lead in the fourth set.
Yet, Kyrgios is always a threat and he was not ready to relinquish the match so easily. Kyrgios fought back to get the set back on even terms and now once again, Nadal was feeling the pressure. For the second consecutive set, Nadal was forced to win the tiebreak and that is what he did. The number one seed won 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(4). His next obstacle will come in the form of  Dominic Thiem (AUT), who is another familiar foe, another player who is a legitimate threat and a player Nadal knows he will have to bring his best to defeat. Nadal leads their head-to-head 9:4, but it is no guarantee of victory. In their thirteen previous encounters, they have only met once on hard court, and Thiem pushed Nadal to five sets, two of which were tiebreaks; thus, Nadal knows he is in for another tough battle if he wants to get back to the semifinals of the Australian Open.
SOURCE OF IMAGES: Zimbio.com (Getty Images AsiaPac: Nick Kyrgios)