A rare extended break between grand slam matches couldn’t have come at a better time for Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon.
A rain-delayed schedule at the All England Club means Kyrgios has been afforded the luxury of two full days off leading into his fourth-round showdown with world No.1 Rafael Nadal on Tuesday.
With the 19-year-old still acclimatising to the physical rigours of the men’s tour, it gives Kyrgios vital recovery time before facing one of the fittest men in world tennis.
The Australian has spent almost nine hours on court in his three matches so far and was visibly feeling the pinch in Saturday’s four-set win over Czech Jiri Vesely.
Still, Kyrgios believes his fitness has come a long way from the start of the year, when he tired badly in a five-set second round loss to Benoit Paire at the Australian Open.
“I’m still young, so I’m still getting used to the best-of-five sets and trying to back it up,” Kyrgios said after a 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-2 win over 68th-ranked Vesely.
“I’m physically a little bit sore, but I think that’s normal.
“I thought I backed up really well from my five-set match against (Richard) Gasquet.
“Rafa is probably the fittest guy on tour, and one of the strongest, too.
“He will have no worries.
“But it’s grass, so it’s a bit more forgiving on your body and the points are shorter.”
Kyrgios had a practice session at on Sunday, the tournament’s traditional rest day.
His last-16 match against Nadal was expected to be played on Monday but rain delays on the weekend forced the postponement of 45 matches, pushing some of the men’s fourth-round matches to Tuesday.
While Nadal was one of the lucky few to have no interruptions to his third round, defeating Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin under the Centre Court roof, he said the delays would make life difficult later in the week.
The winner of Tuesday’s match will have to back up for a quarter-final on Wednesday, while some of Nadal’s biggest rivals – such as Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka – get to play their fourth-round matches on Monday.
“That’s not good. That’s not a positive thing,” Nadal said.
Kyrgios has belief he can stage a massive upset against the two-time Wimbledon champion.
And former greats including Pat Cash and Todd Woodbridge believe he has the game to trouble the Spaniard.
Kyrgios is bidding to become the youngest man to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals since compatriot Bernard Tomic in 2011 and the first man to make the last eight on debut since Florian Mayer in 2004.