Nadal knows he won’t lose, says Kyr­gios

New Straits Times - - Sport -

Kyr­gios be­lieves the French Open is Rafael Nadal’s to lose and that his gen­er­a­tion will have to wait a lit­tle longer be­fore re­leas­ing the old guard’s grip on men’s ten­nis.

The fiery Aus­tralian, who fa­mously de­feated Nadal at Wim­ble­don in 2014 when he was just 19 and ranked 144 in the world, has still to get be­yond the quar­ter-fi­nals of a ma­jor.

In­deed, the big four of Nadal, No­vak Djokovic, Roger Fed­erer and Andy Murray have cap­tured 25 of the last 29 Grand Slams.

O f t h e o t h e r f o u r, S t a n Wawrinka has three with just Marin Cilic at the 2014 US Open man­ag­ing to play the role of shock gate­crasher.

For Kyr­gios, Nadal re­mains the over­whelm­ing favourite to win a 10th French Open and take his per­sonal ma­jors haul to 15.

“Nadal, I don’t think he’s wor­ried at all about any­one in this tour­na­ment, to be fair,” said the 18th seeded Aus­tralian, who downed Ger­man vet­eran Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 to reach the sec­ond round at Roland Gar­ros.

“Best of five, it suits him. He knows he’s not gonna lose. Let’s be re­al­is­tic.”

It was 20-year-old Alexan­der Zverev’s tri­umph over Djokovic in the Rome Masters fi­nal which prompted whis­pers of an immi- nent shift in power at the top of the game.

But Kyr­gios is not con­vinced that day has come, point­ing to the con­trast­ing for­tunes of 23year- old Do­minic Thiem in Rome.

The Aus­trian stunned Nadal in the quar­ter-fi­nals but man­aged to take just one game off Djokovic in the semis.

“I can’t re­ally see the chang­ing of the guard hap­pen­ing any time soon be­cause of one tour­na­ment,” said Kyr­gios, who is play­ing in Paris hav­ing suf­fered hip and el­bow in­juries which ruled him out of the Rome and Monte Carlo events this spring.

“I think the young ones have a ways to go. Thiem played an un­be­liev­able match in Rome to just beat him.

“Then look what hap­pened the next round, he’s com­pletely gone.”

Kyr­gios man­aged to keep his com­bustible tem­per in check on Tues­day de­spite a long run­ning con­ver­sa­tion with um­pire Jake Gar­ner over why some balls leave marks on clay and not oth­ers.

He is still try­ing to learn to love clay, but he ad­mits it’s not easy.

“What don’t I like about clay? I don’t like how my shoes get dirty. When I’m back home I don’t re­ally train that much on clay be­cause it makes my cars dirty, too.”

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