RAFAEL Nadal is urging Nick Kyrgios to “keep going” after consigning the combustible Australian to an explosive straight-sets loss in the China Open final.
The world No.1 cashed in on another Kyrgios meltdown to seize his sixth title of the season with a 6-2 6-1 victory in Beijing.
Chasing his third win over Nadal, Kyrgios was unable to shake off an unfavourable line call in the opening game of the match, collapsing to defeat in 92 minutes.
Nadal’s latest triumph, following successes in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and grand slam glory in Paris and New York, came after the Spaniard saved two match points in his tournament opener against Lucas Pouille.
Victory also further boosted the 16-time major champion’s chances of holding off Roger Federer to finish the season atop the rankings for the first time since 2013.
Despite losing, Kyrgios will climb to 15th in the ATP Race to next month’s World Tour Finals in London.
With defending champion Andy Murray, five-time winner Novak Djokovic and world No.9 Stan Wawrinka all injured and out for the rest of the season, Kyrgios is effectively in 12th place with the top eight plus an alternate making the trip to the English capital.
The Australian No.1 will get another opportunity to pick up precious rankings points at this week’s Shanghai Masters, where he will open against American Steve Johnson.
“Congrats to Nick for a great week,” Nadal said.
“It was one month and a half ago, maybe less, that you beat me in Cincinnati so you’re doing great.
“Keep going and playing that way and of course you’re going to have a lot of success in the sport. You have a great future.”
Kyrgios is also trying to draw on the positives after losing his cool following a promising start on Sunday night.
He was unable to recover after an incorrect call likely robbed him of a crucial break in the very first game.
He had Nadal on the stretch down break point only for a backhand that clipped the line to be called out.
Furious at having to replay the point after a successful Hawk-Eye challenge, Kyrgios engaged in a running battle with chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani for the rest of the match.
“An absolute joke,” he said.
“It changes the match.”
The eighth seed saved five break points the very next game and then more in his second service game as tensions rose after a conduct warning for swearing. The epic first four games lasted half an hour but the next four barely half that as Kyrgios unravelled to gift Nadal the opening set.
After a second conduct warning, Kyrgios was docked a point and then coughed up successive double-faults to allow the world No.1 to take the set. There was no way back as Nadal raced to victory to collect his 75th career title at the same cherished venue where he earned Olympic gold in 2008.
“Congratulations to Rafa again and I’ll be back,” Kyrgios said.
“It’s been an amazing week for me. First time in Beijing and to make the final is pretty good. I played some great tennis.
“It wasn’t to be today. He played unbelievable, but he’s one of the greatest of all time.”