World No.26 Nick Kyrgios paid an emotional tribute to NBA star Kobe Bryant ahead of his Australian Open fourth round clash against Rafael Nadal on Monday. The legendary Lakers star passed away in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California along with his 13-year old daughter Gianna on Sunday. The Australian tennis star donned Kobe Bryant’s fabled No.8 jersey while warming up before the clash.
Kobe Bryant and his 13-year old daughter Gianna were among the nine victims who died in a chopper crash on Sunday. A video was played at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne to pay tribute to the five-time NBA Winner and one of the greatest players in basketball history ahead of the match between Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios walked out wearing a #8 yellow Lakers jersey of Kobe Bryant and was teary-eyed as he sat on the bench on the side of the court.
World No.1 Rafael Nadal had earlier sent out a heartfelt tribute to Kobe Bryant when he learned of the sad news. The Spanish star expressed his shock and offered his condolences to Bryant’s wife on Twitter. Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios are facing each other for the 8th time in their careers at the Australian Open with the Spaniard leading head-to-head 4-3. However, Nick Kyrgios leads their head-to-head on the hard courts. In the last encounter between the two rivals, Rafael Nadal prevailed with a four-set victory at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships.
I woke up this morning with the horrible news of the tragic death of one of the greatest sportsman in the world. Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and other passengers. My condolences to his wife and families. I am in shock.— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) January 27, 2020