Editor’s Note: Rafael Nadal has withdrawn ahead of his semifinal with Nick Kyrgios.
Rafael Nadal vs Nick Kyrgios is a superstar matchup at Wimbledon‘s semifinal stage in London. Our panelists offer their predictions for this match, and for the Novak Djokovic vs Cameron Norrie clash also taking place on Friday.
Rafael Nadal vs Nick Kyrgios
Damian Kust: It was supposed to be Nick Kyrgios coming into the semifinals with fitness question marks, but after the Australian easily cleaned up Cristian Garin, the 27-year-old certainly joined the discussion and improved his chances. Kyrgios had often troubled Rafael Nadal in the past and has a 1-1 win/loss record against him on grass. If the Spaniard’s abdominal injury turns out to be as serious as it looked on Wednesday, his chances of taking this one seem pretty slim, especially on a surface that favors his opponent a lot more. Big serving would still be key, but perhaps Kyrgios just wouldn’t have to be afraid of extended rallies as much as he’d usually be. Whether the Australian holds up mentally is a topic for another day, but he’s done an excellent job in this regard so far. Kyrgios in 5
Glenys Furness: This should be a fun match. Kyrgios seems to have calmed down in the last couple of matches and has certainly been playing great tennis. The Aussie has made the semifinal of his first grand slam. Having previously only made the quarter final at the Australian Open in 2015, that was the furthest he had ever gone. Against the second seed Nadal, Kyrgios will not get away with any antics. Nadal came into the event apparently with a rib injury, and in the quarterfinal needed a medical timeout. However, the Spaniard has been in Wimbledon semifinals before. Nadal has won the event only twice, but been in the final 5 times. Nadal will have the experience and the crowd behind him. Nadal in 4
Jakub Bobro: Nadal’s fifth-set tiebreak win over Taylor Fritz with a clear abdominal injury was the most incredible feat of sheer will I have ever seen on a tennis court. Very few players would choose to battle through that injury but only Rafael Nadal could have won that match. After some injury issues for Kyrgios himself in the fourth round, the shoulder did not really come up for the Australian in the quarterfinals against Cristian Garin. Nadal will use every hour available to recover as much as he can and while you can never write the Spaniard off, I just cannot see him pulling off another win with how limiting this injury is. You can count on the fact that he will test Kyrgios, pushing all the way and make him work for it. Nick Kyrgios, Wimbledon finalist? Sounds weird but we’ll get used to it. Kyrgios in 5
Yesh Ginsburg: This match is quite unfair to predict. On balance, Nadal is better than Kyrgios, even on grass. The head-to-head matchup troubles the Spaniard, but he still retains a 6-3 advantage. Kyrgios is too mercurial and not consistent enough to trust to beat Nadal over five sets. Then again, Nadal’s physical condition makes it impossible to back him. Unless his serve is much stronger than it was in the quarterfinal against Fritz, he just can’t win. Kyrgios in 4
Jack Edward: With a chip the size of Karatsev’s thigh on his shoulder, Nick Kyrgios has barged, cussed and spluttered his way to a Grand Slam semifinal. The Aussie is serving phenomenally and showed in his matches against Cristian Garin and Stefanos Tsitsipas that when he’s on, he’s incredibly difficult to beat on grass.
It’s tough to look past Kyrgios’s chances going into a semi-final with Rafael Nadal. The world #4 nursed the injury that’s plagued him for years in his tight win over Taylor Fritz but somehow – as the Spaniard always does – found a way to come through in five sets. That ‘somehow’, that inexplicable fight Nadal brings to the court… Whatever Kyrgios throws at him, even on his best day, it’s difficult not to see Nadal finding some way – any way – through to his sixth Wimbledon final. Nadal in 5
Andy Watson: Since the circus vs Tsitsipas, Kyrgios has been more focused and business-like. With a serve like his you always have a good chance and I will be expecting to see at least one tiebreak in this match. Nadal just continues to go through the pain barrier in his pursuit of tennis immortality. There were multiple occasions during the Fritz quarterfinal where the Spaniard looked defeated physically. This still has to be a concern moving forward, surely he cannot continue to do this. Kyrgios has beaten Nadal previously, indeed he has beaten him at Wimbledon, so he doesn’t have the same fear factor as many do. I think the Aussie can win this. Kyrgios in 4
Steen Kirby: Taylor Fritz will be rueing his missed chances to upset Rafael Nadal in their five set quarterfinal match. Nadal’s fitness is now in question despite his incredible performance in a tough match. Nadal started slow this tournament dropping two sets against journeyman players in two matches, he then found form taking apart nervous upstarts before his battle with the rising Fritz. While Nadal has redlined his game and maximized his talent over his career, and at Wimbledon 2022, Nick Kyrgios has always had the talent but has routinely failed to live up to expectations because he’s been distracted from tennis and hasn’t taken the game seriously. By his own admission he’s just a few years removed from spending all night at a London pub drinking hours before his 2019 match against Nadal at Wimbledon. Nadal won that match in four sets and also won their 2022 clash at Indian Wells in three sets. Kyrgios had two hard court wins against Rafa and a famous 2014 Wimbledon win that help elevate him to the sport’s biggest stage but he’s clearly the underdog in this matchup overall.
Kyrgios 2022 Wimbledon campaign has been a rollercoaster, he needed five sets against home wild card Paul Jubb in the opening round, he was involved in a wrathful match with Stefanos Tsitsipas, where Tsitsipas called him a bully after Kyrgios won in four sets and tried to have Tsitsipas defaulted. He then beat Brandon Nakashima in a tough fifth setter (his record in Wimbledon 5th setters is incredible), and eased past Cristian Garin in straights, after news broke he was due to appear in court in Australia over a charge he assaulted his ex-girlfriend.
As for this semifinal match, Kyrgios serve will help him win a lot of free points and with Rafa’s physical condition in question, if Kyrgios can maintain a high level of play for at least three sets, he should win, even if it’s once again a bit of a rollercoaster. Nadal’s physical condition should keep him from having an extra gear in this one. Kyrgios in 5