Plenty of dramatics with Nadal downing Kyrgios

American Davis knocks out Kerber

AP Photo | Rafael Nadal acknowledges the crowd after beating Nick Kyrgios in a men's singles match Thursday.

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — There is never a dull moment with Nick Kyrgios, whether he’s smacking a forehand directly at Rafael Nadal’s midsection — right at him, on purpose — and earning a staredown in return or arguing with the chair umpire or hitting a second-serve ace at 135 mph or an underarm ace.

All of that and more — much, much more — was on display at Centre Court on Thursday, when Nadal emerged from the tumult to beat Kyrgios 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) in a second-round Wimbledon match boasting all manner of dramatics, doses of animosity and delightful play.

“When he wants to compete well, he’s one of the toughest opponents you can face. Normally against me and the top guys he wants to try hard,” said Nadal, who was ranked No. 1 when he lost to a 19-year-old Kyrgios at the All England Club in 2014. “And when he’s that way, he’s very tough.”

They have been at odds more recently away from the court, with Nadal, his uncle and Kyrgios all trading barbs.

In the leadup to this meeting, Kyrgios joked that he didn’t think “me and Rafa could go down to the Dog & Fox and have a beer together,” referring to a nearby pub where the 24-year-old Australian was spotted Wednesday night. The 33-year-old Nadal, meanwhile, observed that he was “too old for all this stuff.”

Kyrgios is capable of being as entertaining and befuddling a player as there is and showed why throughout this 3-hour-plus contest that overshadowed everything else going on around the grass-court Grand Slam tournament on Day 4.

Defending champion Angelique Kerber lost to Lauren Davis, an American who lost in qualifying but got into the main draw when someone else withdrew. Seven-time champion Serena Williams needed a comeback to win in three sets against an 18-year-old qualifier. Williams’ partner for mixed doubles, two-time Wimbledon singles winner Andy Murray, played his first-round match in men’s doubles. Marcos Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open runner-up and a fan favorite, played what he says will be the last match of his career.