Nick Kyrgios reportedly drank in a local Wimbledon pub until 11 p.m. on Wednesday, just one night before his grudge match against Rafael Nadal.
Kyrgios and Nadal share a bitter rivalry, one only heightened after the veteran accused the 24-year-old of lacking respect for the public earlier this year. His uncle, Toni Nadal, even called Kyrgios “uneducated.”
It was not long before the Australian responded, mercilessly trolling the “salty” Spaniard in a no-holds barred podcast with a prominent journalist in May.
A Centre Court clash between the two men’s players promises to be box office entertainment as it pits one of the all-time greats in Nadal against one of the sport’s loudest and most polarizing athletes. It is also a Wimbledon rematch of their 2014 bout, when Kyrgios, just 19 at the time, beat Nadal, who was ranked the world’s number one tennis player.
But while Nadal will likely have been resting midweek, perhaps even watching how Krygios performed in his first round, five-set epic against fellow-Aussie Jordan Thompson on Tuesday, his opponent was reportedly holding court with friends, fans, and journalists in the famed Dog & Fox pub, which is a 15-minute walk from the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
The Eurosport tennis commentator Miguel Seabra said on Twitter that he and Kyrgios “had a toast” together at the pub, adding that the athlete was “completely relaxed, laughing with friends, chatting with girls, drinking.”
Earlier this week, Kyrgios had said that the chances of him sharing a beer at the pub with Nadal were slim, as he doesn’t know his rival all too well.
“Not sure that me and Rafa could go down to the Dog and Fox and have a beer together,” he reportedly said, according to the Australian newspaper The Herald Sun. “I don’t know him at all. I know him as a tennis player.”
Stuart Fraser, tennis correspondent for The Times, said Kyrgios was still at the bar even after 11 p.m. on Wednesday, with “no sign of Nadal for that beer.”
Kyrgios is one of the most complex characters in tennis. If you remove the theatrics, there are few more talented players outside of the “big three” of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Nadal.
However, Kyrgios is prone to mental lapses. Shortly after he obliterated the next-gen talent Daniil Medvedev in the first round of the Italian Open in May, he unravelled against Carlos Ruud in the very next match. Kyrgios threw his chair onto the court, packed his bag, and walked off in the middle of the match, disqualifying himself from the entire competition.
Against Thompson this week, Kyrgios could arguably have won the match a lot sooner had it not been for his compulsion to hit pointless tweeners into the net. When he had the lead in the second set, he fell to the floor, straddled the grass, and just moaned. He was later heckled by the crowd over his erratic service game.
Drinking in the Dog & Fox before reopening his storied rivalry with one of the most popular Wimbledon competitors may seem unconventional for most, but it’s not if you’re Kyrgios.
In the same podcast he chastized Nadal for being salty, he admitted he began the 2019 Mexican Open by going out most nights and getting “hammered.”
“I was going to bed at 4.30 a.m. on average,” he said of a competition he won having swept aside challenges from Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, and Alexander Zverev. “I was packing my bag and I would take my going out clothes. It was insane, I was jet skiing and partying and won a tournament.
“I got hammered at the players’ party and somehow played unbelievable that week, the stars aligned. I was having a lot of fun.”
Having booze on his mind mid-competition doesn’t always work out for the best, though, as he found out in 2017.
During his French Open loss to Kevin Anderson that year, Kyrgios smashed his racket to smithereens, demanded a beer from a spectator in the crowd, then walked off the court with his phone in his hand.
After his pub visit last night, it remains to be seen what version of Kyrgios turns up for the Nadal match on Thursday.