Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios have learned when they will face a rematch after their Wimbledon semi-final clash was called off when the Spaniard withdrew from the tournament injured. The pair were set to renew their rivalry at the All England Club for the 10th time but instead will face off at the new United Cup to start the 2023 season, with Spain’s tie against Australia scheduled for January 2 and 3.
Nadal and Kyrgios have enjoyed a tasty rivalry dating back to their first-ever meeting in the fourth round of Wimbledon back in 2014, when the Spaniard was ranked No 1 in the world when he was upset by a 19-year-old Kyrgios, who was a wildcard ranked at world No 144. They have since faced off eight more times with the Australian throwing Nadal off with underarm serves, though the world No 2 leads their head-to-head by six wins to three losses.
The Spaniard denied fans the chance to witness their 10th meeting at Wimbledon this summer when he pulled out ahead of their semi-final clash after suffering a 7mm tear in his abdomen, giving the 27-year-old a walkover into his maiden Grand Slam final. But they will finally make up for it with a rematch at the brand new United Cup in January after Spain and Australia were drawn in Group D along with Great Britain.
And the rivals now have a date for their clash, with Spain playing their second tie of the mixed-gender team tournament against Australia across two days, on January 2 and 3. The nation will first face Great Britain on New Years Eve, with the likes of Cam Norrie and Harriet Dart in the British squad.
Nadal and Kyrgios are then expected to do battle in the early days of 2023 as the leading male singles players for their respective nations’ teams. They could also face off in the mixed doubles, with Spain boasting WTA world No 13 Paula Badosa while Ajla Tomljanovic heads up the Aussie squad for the women.
It would be the latest chapter in their spicy rivalry, which saw Kyrgios admit to intentionally trying to hit Nadal with a ball during their 2019 Wimbledon clash, won by the Spaniard in four sets. It came just months after the world No 22 beat the 92-time title winner in Acapulco and later called him “super salty” during an appearance on the No Challenges Remaining podcast.
The 22-time Major champion slammed Kyrgios for being disrespectful after their Wimbledon clash that year, saying: “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.” But the pair appear to be on better terms now, as Nadal praised the seven-time title winner after winning their 2020 Australian Open battle.
“When he’s playing like today with a positive attitude, he gives lots of positive things to our sport. I encourage him to keep working like this because he’s one of the highest talents we have on our tour, I like the Nick Kyrgios of this tournament,” he said after winning in four sets. The Aussie then sent his well wishes to Nadal when their Wimbledon semi-final was abandoned this year, saying: “I hope your recovery goes well and we all hope to see you healthy soon… till next time.”