Rafael Nadal
Nadal faces a stiff test against Kyrgios in Madrid today Reuters

Fourth seed Rafael Nadal takes on 16th seed Nick Kyrgios in the Men's singles R16 match of 2017 Madrid Open at the Manzanares Park Tennis Center on Thursday.

The four-time champion heads into this tricky contest on the back of a hard-fought 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 win against Italy's Fabio Fognini in his opening encounter, that was pushed back as the Spaniard had been recovering from an ear infection.

On the other hand, Kyrgios, who delayed his start to the clay season after missing Monte Carlo and Barcelona, decimated unseeded Ryan Harrison 6-3, 6-3 to set up the much-anticipated clash against Nadal.

Memories of 2014 Wimbledon pre-quarter-final match remains fresh as a then 19-year-old Kyrgios served 37 aces to knockout Nadal from the tournament. The Australian has gone on to become one of the most consistent performers in the ATP circuit and has been enjoying a solid run in 2017 despite an early upset at Australian Open.

Kyrgios has beaten world number two Novak Djokovic twice - quarter-final of Acapulco and R16 at Indian Wells - and pushed Roger Federer to the limit in the semi-final of Miami Masters but eventually succumbed to a 6-7, 7-6, 6-7 defeat to the eventual champion.

If his performances on hard courts against top-10 players this season are anything to go by, Nadal is in for a stiff test today in Madrid. Kyrgios delayed the start to his clay season after a busy stint on hard courts and has looked solid over his straight sets wins in the first two rounds.

On the other hand, Nadal looked sloppy during his opening round win over Lopez and the 14-time Grand Slam winner cannot afford another such show on Thursday. Having beaten Kyrgios in their only meeting on clay - at last year's Rome Masters - after conceding the first set, the Spaniard will be wary of the threat his Australian opponent possesses.