Kyrgios busts racket in curse-laced loss to Nadal

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Rafael Nadal defeated Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (0), 5-7, 6-4 Thursday to reach the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open in a match featuring obscenities, underhand serves, a point penalty and smashed rackets.

Nadal improved to 19-0 this year, the third-best start to a season since 1990.

After the postmatch handshake, Kyrgios walked to his seat and smashed his racket on the court. It bounced up and away, nearly striking a ball boy standing at the back of the court. Kyrgios walked off to a mix of boos and cheers.

Kyrgios was defensive when asked about the incident following the match.

“What would you like me to say about it?” Kyrgios said. “Obviously, was [nearly hitting him] my intention? No. Because I threw the racquet. Did I throw the racquet anywhere near him originally? It landed a meter from my foot and skidded and nearly hit him.

“I’m human. Things happen like that. Obviously, it was a very misfortunate bounce. I think if I did that a million times over it wouldn’t have gone that way. And what do you want me to say? It was three meters away from the kid. That’s a question you’re going to say after a three-hour battle against Nadal? That’s what you come here with?”

Trailing 0-6 in the first-set tiebreaker, Kyrgios was serving when the chair umpire assessed him a point penalty for an audible obscenity to a fan, giving Nadal the set. Kyrgios dropped the balls he was holding and calmly walked to his seat.

In the sixth game of the first set, Kyrgios led 40-love when he served underhanded. Nadal stepped up and bashed a forehand winner down the line. Kyrgios responded with a 140-mph ace to go up 4-2. He also had leads of 3-1 and 5-3 in the set.

Nadal won three straight games to lead 6-5 in the first. On the changeover, Kyrgios angrily tossed his racket. He gave the bent racket to a young boy in the stands.

Early in the second set, the chair umpire scolded a man in the stands who repeatedly yelled, “Nick! Nick!” The umpire said, “Ten thousand people want to watch tennis and you’re the only one screaming.” The man piped down.

“I know when you play Rafa, like, 99% of the crowd is going to go for these guys,” Kyrgios said. “And I’m not asking for the crowd to go for me or cheer my name or go nuts for me when I’m winning or losing or anything.”

Tied 3-all in the second set and serving at 40-love, Kyrgios served an underhanded ace to go up 4-3. They stayed on serve until Kyrgios broke Nadal in the 12th game. Nadal’s drop shot caught Kyrgios by surprise and the Australian let loose with an F-bomb during the point. He recovered to make the return, Nadal sent it back and Kyrgios won the set with a leaping backhand volley.

Tied 2-all in the third, Kyrgios engaged with a spectator sitting next to actor Ben Stiller. Uninterested in the fan’s suggestions on how to play, Kyrgios replied that he didn’t tell Stiller how to act. The interaction didn’t deter the Aussie. He fought off a break point and took a 3-2 lead with back-to-back aces at 140 mph and 137 mph.

But Kyrgios double-faulted on game point to trail 4-3. Kyrgios held to lead 5-4, but Nadal closed out the 2-hour, 46-minute match by serving a love game. He set up match point with a 116-mph ace and then hit a forehand winner off a short ball.

ESPN’s D’Arcy Maine and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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