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Kyrgios sets up Nadal showdown with easy win

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Nick Kyrgios is tipping his blockbuster with Rafael Nadal to be “the most-watched match of all-time” after casting aside his dramas to gatecrash the Wimbledon semi-finals for the first time.

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But Nadal doesn’t know if he’ll be fit to tackle Kyrgios as he battles an abdomen injury in the wake of his heroic five-set triumph against Taylor Fritz.

Kyrgios had too much firepower for Cristian Garin, eliminating the unseeded Chilean 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-5) in two hours, 13 minutes on Wednesday – barely 24 hours after being summonsed to a Canberra court over an assault allegation.

The 27-year-old is required in the ACT Magistrates Court on August 2 to potentially face a common assault charge amid reports he grabbed his former girlfriend Chiara Passari in an incident before Christmas last year.

But, first, Kyrgios must focus on Nadal after booking a dream last-four showdown with the 22-times major winner on Friday.

It will be the enigmatic 27-year-old’s long-awaited maiden grand slam semi after losing quarter-finals to Milos Raonic at Wimbledon in 2014 and to Andy Murray at the 2015 Australian Open.

“I just never thought I’d be at a semi-finals of a grand slam. I thought my ship had sailed,” an emotional Kyrgios said.

Tennis’s most gifted yet volatile talent described his journey to his first grand slam semi as “rocky”.

“I obviously had thoughts the last year, year and a half, whether I wanted to play anymore. Lost the love, lost the fire, lost the spark,” Kyrgios said.

“Then some things just changed in my life. I don’t know. I kind of just rediscovered that I’ve got a lot of people that want me to play, that I play for.

“I’ve got a lot left in the tank. I feel like I’m probably playing some of my best tennis, mentally feeling great.”

Kyrgios is the first Australian to progress to the men’s singles semi-finals at the All England Club since 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt made the last four 17 years ago.

And, fittingly, he will square off once more with Nadal – eight years since he caused a sensation as a teenage world No.144 on his Wimbledon debut by knocking out the world No.1.

Nadal turned the tables with a four-set second-round defeat of Kyrgios in 2019.

Little wonder Kyrgios said it would be extra special to face the most prolific grand slam singles champion in men’s tennis for a spot in Sunday’s final.

“We’ve had some absolute battles on that centre court. He’s won one against me, and I’ve won one against him,” Kyrgios said.

“Two completely different personalities. I feel like we respect the hell out of each other, though. I feel like that would be a mouth-watering kind of encounter for everyone around the world.

“That would probably be the most-watched match of all time. I would argue that.”

Continuing his quest for the first calendar-year grand slam since Rod Laver in 1969, Nadal overcame a painful abdominal injury to outlast American 11th seed Taylor Fritz 3-6 7-5 3-6 7-5 7-6 (10-4) in a fifth-set super-tiebreaker in Wednesday’s last quarter-final.

Nadal defied his family, who wanted him to pull out because of his painful abdomen injury during his quarter-final with Fritz, to keep his dream of a calendar grand slam alive.

But the 36-year-old noted pointedly his health was more important than a third Wimbledon title and record-extending 23rd grand slam.

Asked if he’d be fit to play Kyrgios on Friday Nadal shrugged: “I don’t know.”

“Honestly, I can’t give you a clear answer because if, tomorrow, another thing happens, I will be a liar.

“It’s the player decision, but at the same time I need to know different opinions and need to check everything the proper way, no?

“Something more important than winning Wimbledon, that is the health. Let’s see how this is going.”

Three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic and British ninth seed Cameron Norrie will feature in Friday’s other semi.

– AAP

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