The most anticipated match in Madrid on Tuesday pitted Juan Martin del Potro against Dominic Thiem. On one side you had an all-time fan favorite in Del Potro, and on the other you had the ATP’s fastest-rising star in Thiem. What more could anyone ask out of a first-round encounter? Together they produced an entertaining two-setter that ended with a feel-good victory for Del Potro, who is struggling to return to form after two years away. Yet despite all of that, the stands were half full.

Contrast that with Wednesday’s most anticipated match, between Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios. Even before the first ball was struck, every seat in Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario Stadium was taken, and there was a line of hundreds waiting in vain to get inside. The tournament’s organizers had made the mistake of putting Wawrinka-Kyrgios in the third-largest arena at the Caja Magica; either they had underestimated the appeal of this grudge match, or they have all been sleeping under a rock since last summer. Judging by the turnout, Wawrinka and Kyrgios might want to consider taking their show on the road and staging an old-fashioned two-man barnstorming tour.

Forget fan favorites, rising stars, heartwarming comebacks and even hometown heroes. Wawrinka-Kyrgios had what all sports fans, even if they tell you otherwise, want to see: beef. This was the second time the Aussie and the Swiss had faced off since their notorious encounter in Montreal last August, when—just in case you, too, have been sleeping under a rock—Kyrgios informed Wawrinka, in front of the world, that his girlfriend had slept with another player.

The first rematch came in Doha in February, and it ended tamely, with a chastened Kyrgios limping off the court and retiring in the second set. He and Wawrinka also played on the same team, the Singapore Slammers, during an IPTL exhibition tour of Asia last December. When they joined up, Kyrgios was quick to claim that the hatchet had been buried.

“It’s almost like nothing happened,” the Aussie said.

But Wawrinka, in an interview earlier this year with Reem Abulleil of Sport 360, said not so fast. According to Stan, trading high-fives with Kyrgios was nothing more than a professional obligation.

“You’re doing your job and that’s it,” Wawrinka said. “Nick is a tennis player. I’m a tennis player. We’re going to be around for a while, every tournament or whatever. The thing is, I don’t forget [what he did], for sure.”

The tennis fans of Madrid didn’t forget either. When they wedged themselves into Sanchez-Vicario Stadium on Wednesday, did they hope for more fireworks between the two? The sideline cameramen certainly did. Each time either player uttered a word as they crossed paths on a changeover, the cameras swooped in, hoping for that Holy Grail of modern sports: the viral moment.

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And that's the ironic appeal of any Wawrinka-Kyrgios match. When Kyrgios “sledged,” as the British say, Wawrinka in Montreal, there was worldwide outrage.

“Appalling,” USA Today asserted.

“Out of bounds,” New England Sports Network wrote.

“Nick Kyrgios’ abuse of Stan Wawrinka shows he is [in] need of help,” The Guardian opined.

“Nick Kyrgios,” according to Reuters, “has major behavioral issues.”

These reactions were natural and understandable. Profane trash talk may be a given in other sports, but it’s a different story in tennis, where virtually everything is picked up by on-court microphones. At the same time, while Kyrgios’ attack on Wawrinka in Montreal was judged to have no place in tennis, it was also the only reason there were hundreds of spectators lined up to see them play on Wednesday.

It may have had no place in tennis, but God forbid you should miss it if it happened again.

Were they not entertained? This edition of Kyrgios-Wawrinka offered a curious mix of tension and distance. Through much of the match, neither man seemed to want to engage the other. Not only did they avoid eye contact, they also avoided challenging each other’s serves. Games sped by quickly and quietly, and Kyrgios, the eventual winner, never had a break point. In Doha, it seemed that Kyrgios didn't want to deal with the baggage that came with the matchup; this time it was Wawrinka who seemed unable to muster the stomach for a fight down the stretch. Tennis is tough enough when the war with your opponent isn’t real.

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At the end of the first set, though, both men did engage, and it produced perhaps the most intense 20 minutes of tennis this season. Kyrgios belted service winners and went after his forehand; Wawrinka countered with his killer down-the-line backhand. As they went deep into a tiebreaker, Kyrgios’ roars were matched by Wawrinka’s wails—now they were looking across the net at each other. Stan had a set point at 7-6, but Kyrgios surprised him by serving and volleying on a second serve. Wawrinka’s backhand pass sailed out, and so did his chance in this match. The Aussie, who has lost just one tiebreaker in 2016, would end up winning two of them today: 7-6 (7), 7-6 (2) were the scores.

Every Kyrgios match involves a precarious emotional balancing act, and he almost fell off his own ledge over a line call by chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani in the tiebreaker. If Wawrinka had won that set, the Aussie might have had a meltdown in the second. But Kyrgios also showed again that he has a knack for finding his best stuff when he needs it the most. At 4-5 in the first-set tiebreaker, he let loose with a backhand that caught the corner for a crucial winner. This was Kyrgios’ eighth victory over a Top 10 player; not bad for a 21-year-old.

Last summer the tennis world said it wanted to see and hear from Nick Kyrgios a lot less. After today, it's clearer than ever that that's not going to happen. We may not have forgiven him, but we won't stop watching him.