LONDON • Nick Kyrgios admitted that he meant to spear a forehand directly at Rafael Nadal in their bad-tempered Wimbledon second-round clash on Thursday.
Nadal triumphed 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3) in a duel which saw the combustible Australian pick up a code violation for unsportsmanlike behaviour and also wage a bitter war of words with umpire Damien Dumusois.
He called the official a "disgrace", describing his handling of the explosive tie as "pathetic" for failing to warn Nadal over what he claimed was his pedestrian pace of play.
The two players faced down each other in the eighth game of the third set, when Nadal had to take evasive action with his racket to fend off a blistering forehand aimed at him by the Australian.
"I was going for him. Yeah, I wanted to hit him square in the chest. Like, he's got decent hands," said 24-year-old Kyrgios.
"Why would I apologise? I mean, the dude has got how many Slams, how much money in the bank account? I think he can take a ball to the chest, bro. I'm not going to apologise to him at all."
Nadal said he was unconcerned when the ball came towards him at high speed, rather fearing for others if the ball had gone astray.
"When he hits the ball like this, it is dangerous. It's not dangerous for me, it is dangerous for a line referee, dangerous for the crowd," said the two-time Wimbledon champion.
"I am a professional, so I know how to avoid this. But another one, the ball goes straight to the back. That ball hits an eye or something like this, it is a problem."
Kyrgios has a history of on-court histrionics and a feisty rivalry with Nadal, which escalated recently when Toni Nadal, the 18-time Grand Slam winner's uncle, said that Kyrgios was uneducated.
The world No. 43 retorted by calling Nadal "super salty" in defeat.
Nadal had suggested that Kyrgios does have the makings of a Grand Slam champion, but the Australian doubts he has the work ethic to achieve such a lofty ambition.
"I know what I'm capable of. I'm a great tennis player, but I don't do the other stuff," he said.
"I'm not the most professional guy. I won't train day in, day out. I won't show up every day. So there's a lot of things I need to improve on to get to that level that Rafa brings, Novak (Djokovic), Roger (Federer) have been doing for so long.
"Just depends how bad I want it. But, no, at the moment I don't think I can contend for a Grand Slam."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON