Paying tribute to former Lakers star and NBA great Kobe Bryant, Rafael Nadal donned a Lakers' cap during his pre-quarterfinal clash with Australia's Nick Kyrgios at the Australian Open on Monday. The Spaniard came through with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 win over Kyrgios. He'll now face Dominic Thiem in the next round. Kobe Bryant died with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash which happened on Sunday. It left the entire world shocked.
Ahead of the start of the match between Nick Kyrgios and Rafael Nadal, a video was also played at the Rod Laver Arena to pay tribute to Bryant. After the win over Kyrgios, Rafael Nadal was seen wearing a Lakers cap while speaking to John McEnroe in the post-match interview. He reserved special praise for his Australian counterpart. Nadal also labelled Kyrgios as one of the 'highest talents' on the tour and said that he likes the Australian Open version of Nick Kyrgios.
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
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 Australian tennis star donned Kobe Bryant’s fabled No. 8 jersey while warming up before the clash. Kyrgios walked out wearing a No. 8 yellow Lakers jersey of Kobe Bryant. He was teary-eyed as he sat on the bench outside the court.
Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were among the 9 people that were killed in the crash that took place over the weekend. Kobe Bryant, along with his daughter Gianna Bryant, was on his way to a youth basketball game when the incident happened. The helicopter crashed amidst foggy conditions and burst into flames.