Nadal and Kyrgios to renew rivalry after Rafa ousts Reilly Opelka
Rafael Nadal will do battle with Nick Kyrgios for a ninth time after the three-time Indian Wells champion downed home talent Reilly Opelka to reach the quarter-finals.
Nadal took out the big-serving American 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5) to reach the quarter-finals and extend his unbeaten start to 2022 to 18-0.
Kyrgios had earlier advanced to the last eight after world number 10 Jannik Sinner withdrew ahead of their encounter due to illness.
In their eight previous meetings, Nadal leads Kyrgios 5-3, including winning their most recent match in the fourth round of the 2020 Australian Open.
Kyrgios famously defeated Nadal in their first ever meeting at Wimbledon 2014, the Australian then being ranked 144th in the world having entered the event as a wildcard.
The two met at the same event five years later in 2019 for their seventh career encounter, with Nadal avenging the 2014 loss that day.
Perhaps their most entertaining showdown came earlier that year in Acapulco as Kyrgios claimed a third career victory over the Spaniard en route to the title in Mexico.
Playing just his 10th event since the Covid-19 pandemic began, Kyrgios tumbled down the rankings to 137th in the world in February, his lowest spot since before his Wimbledon 2014 breakthrough.
Now sitting at 132nd in the ATP rankings, Kyrgios’ results so far at Indian Wells will see him climb up to just outside the top 100 at 101st in the hierarchy.
Should he down Nadal to end the Spaniard’s winning streak at 18 he would rise a further 30 places to 71st in the world.
Meanwhile, should Nadal defeat Kyrgios and go on to win the whole tournament he would match fellow GOAT contender Novak Djokovic on a record 37 Masters 1000 titles.
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