Rafael Nadal criticized Nick Kyrgios's attitude following his defeat to the Australian in Acapulco, saying Kyrgios was "not a bad guy" but "lacks a little respect" on court.
Kyrgios dropped the first set and then spoke to the trainer, complaining of being "sick" but not wanting to stop because the press would "blow it up" and he would get booed by the crowd. The 23-year-old also attempted some unusual tactics, occasionally rushing the net behind his return and serving underhand in the third set.
"I don't think he was doing it to bother me, I think he makes a show," Nadal was quoted as saying to press. "[He's] a player who has the talent to win a Grand Slam and be fighting for the top positions of the rankings.
"I don't think he's a bad guy, not at all. I think he's a good guy, but what he lacks is a little respect for the public, for his rival, and also for himself. I think he should improve that. Today we have to say congratulations, he was good and he won."
Nadal also described his hand as now "perfect," having previously said a hand problem had prevented him from practicing before the event, and said he had not taken advantage of some of the leads he had during the encounter.
Kyrgios shrugged off Nadal's comments, and delivered a pointed comment of his own.
"I'm different. Rafa is different. He can focus on what he needs to do," Kyrgios was quoted as saying. "He doesn't know me. So I'm not going to listen at all. That's the way I play. The way he plays, he's very slow between points."
Despite playing some high-quality tennis, Kyrgios appeared to be experiencing physical problems during the encounter, saying he had been on the verge of not playing.
"I woke up today and had food poisoning," he said. "The physio gave me some tablets and it helped a bit, but I was feeling a little woozy. I’ve been dealing with a knee injury.
"Before the match, I wasn’t so sure if I was going to go [on court]."
But he did, fending off triple break point twice and three match points before getting a win in more than three hours. Kyrgios, who announced his arrival on tour in 2014 with a win against Nadal at Wimbledon, is now looking to get another fresh start with his win.
A poor season has dropped him to No. 72 in the rankings, but he described the match as giving him renewed enjoyment in the game.
"A win like this gives me a bit of confidence in myself. I just want to do my thing," said Kyrgios. "It’s one of the best atmospheres that I’ve ever played in. You could tell the crowd was loving every minute of that match," he said. "That’s what we play for. To come to Acapulco, Center Court, a packed crowd."
• Alexander Zverev headlines the Abierto Mexicano Telcel. Watch live coverage on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Monday, 2/25 at 5:00 pm ET.
• Watch Roger Federer live from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship starting Monday, 2/25 at 5:00 am ET
ATP Sao Paulo
• Tennis Channel Plus features live coverage of the Brasil Open beginning Monday, 2/25 at 10:30 am ET