LONDON, July 2 — Nick Kyrgios has Stefanos Tsitsipas in his sights in a blockbuster clash at Wimbledon today, with the winner likely to be the main obstacle in Rafael Nadal's path to the final.
Greek fourth seed Tsitsipas is the only other top-10 player left in Nadal's side of the draw, while fiery Australian Kyrgios is a match for anybody on his day.
Tsitsipas's confidence is sky-high after he clinched his first grass-court title in Mallorca last week but he is facing a man he has beaten just once in their four meetings.
Kyrgios, who came out on top when the two players met in Halle last month, has been making waves at Wimbledon on and off the court.
His opening win over Britain's Paul Jubb was marred by his admission that he spat in the direction of fans, whom he accused of being disrespectful, and he also took aim at officials.
The 27-year-old, who was fined US$10,000 over Tuesday's incidents, has also been in a testy mood in his post-match press conferences but he remains bullish.
"I just feel like I'm comfortable in my own skin," the 40th-ranked player said after his straight-sets win over Filip Krajinovic.
"Some people love to just tear me down. It's just not possible anymore."
Tsitsipas, who reached the fourth round in 2018, said he was "thrilled" to be facing Kyrgios, who beat Nadal on his way to the quarter-finals in 2014.
"I respect him a lot, on the court, what he's trying to do," he said. "Although he has been a little controversial in the past, I think he's playing good tennis."
A win for Kyrgios would give him a season-leading 10th victory on grass this season.
Second seed Nadal, chasing a calendar Grand Slam, is aware he has not yet hit the heights at the All England Club after two scrappy performances so far.
"I didn't play much on grass in three years," the 22-time Grand Slam winner said following his four-set win against Ricardas Berankis.
"It gives me the chance to keep going, so very happy for that.
"I need to improve. I have to keep working, be humble, even when things are not going well."
Australian 19th seed Alex De Minaur beat British wild card Liam Broady 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 and will play Chile's Cristian Garin in the last 16.
Dutch 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp saw off the challenge of French veteran Richard Gasquet in four sets.
In the women's competition, Harmony Tan, who knocked Serena Williams out in the first round, demolished British wild card Katie Boulter 6-1, 6-1 in just 51 minutes to reach the fourth round.
The 24-year-old French player broke Boulter five times in a dominant display to disappoint the crowd on Court Two.
"I think I like grass," said Tan, ranked 115th in the world. "I never play on this court but I like to play with slice and volley and everything with my game so I'm really happy.
"It was really emotional for the first round against Serena and after it was just playing match by match and today was really good tennis. I don't know why but it depends on the day."
Tan will next play 20th seed Amanda Anisimova, who came from behind to beat French Open finalist Coco Gauff 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-1 in an all-American tie.
Simona Halep, the champion in 2019, eased through to the last 16 with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Magdalena Frech.
World number one Iga Swiatek is aiming for a 38th straight win against unseeded French veteran Alize Cornet.
The Polish top seed, asked if her winning streak gave her confidence, said it did not enter her mind while she was playing matches.
"I'm just trying to figure out what to do better and how to kind of come back," she said. "So it doesn't really matter for me."
Fourth seed Paula Badosa takes on two-time former champion Petra Kvitova in one of the most eye-catching ties of round three. — AFP