Nadal sees a bit of himself in young Kyrgios
Rafael Nadal was reluctant to declare Nick Kyrgios the next big thing in tennis, even as John McEnroe was suggesting that the wildcard who had beaten the world No 1 was capable of going all the way to the Wimbledon winner's circle as a 19-year-old on debut.
"For me is very easy to say he can be top 10. I think he can do. Is not an issue that I think he can not do it,'' said Nadal.
"But when we see a young player that arrives to the tour and plays a great match or plays a great tournament, people say he will be the next big star.
"Some things are right - sometimes arrive, sometimes not. So depends how the things improve over the next couple of months, years, for him.
''So if he is able to keep improving, he will be. If not, will be more difficult.''
Quite a sober analysis, then, even if the Kyrgios performance was defiantly not.
The audacious Canberran kept belting his serve, and thumping his groundstrokes, time after time.
In the end, it was Nadal who played more tightly, having won the second set and believing himself to be superior player in the third, but admitting he was outplayed on either side.
Youth helps, admitted the winner of 14 grand slam titles, and in this case the fearless nature of it outweighed his own vast reserves of experience.
"The sport is a mental part a lot of times,'' said Nadal.
"He has things, positive things, to be able to be a good player. But at the end, everything is a little bit easier when you are arriving. Everything is new. Nothing to lose. Everything is good. Everything is positive. You can do whatever and will be positive, and everybody see just the good things on you.''
Nadal pointed out that when he was 19, he was already an established grand slam player [in fact, he had already won the first of his nine French Opens by then], and considered it "strange" that players are now maturing so late.
"Nineteen years old is a perfect age to be on the tour and to play well. That's what happened with all the great players in the past. Is nothing new. When I was young, I was looking about the players that were great players, the top players, Lleyton, Roger, Ferrero, Moya, a lot of ones, Becker.
''They are there with this age. Is something that I always thought I had to be there at that age. With 19, I always thought I had to be with the tour if I want to be a professional tennis player.''
Nadal admitted he was unable to read the Kyrgios serve, which produced 37 aces, and was broken just once in almost three hours, while repeatedly hauling the teenager out of trouble. And on grass, said the second seed and dual Wimbledon champion, that was enough.
"In the tiebreak he was able to serve better than me. So that's an advantage,'' said Nadal.
"I could serve better on the tiebreaks. But 5-all in the second set in the tiebreak, second serve, net, inside for him, second serve big. Then he repeat the second serve with 140 miles the second serve.
"That's happens when you have nothing to lose. You can play that way. Players who really play for being in the last rounds, think about win the titles, it's not easy to create the second serve 114 at 5-all in the tiebreak, but that's what happened today. Congratulations to him. For me, beach. For me, I going to go to the beach in Mallorca.''
Sydney Morning Herald