WIMBLEDON, England – Nick Kyrgios cursed the Wimbledon chair umpire, asking: “Are you stupid?” He demanded to see a Grand Slam supervisor after questioning why his opponent, Stefanos Tsitsipas, didn’t lose their ever-controversial, never-boring match for angrily hitting a ball into the stands after dropping the second set.
Unhappy with the answer, Kyrgios asked, “What are you talking about, bro?” Then came this: “Bro, bring out more escorts. I’m not done. Bring them all out. I do not give a hoot. I won’t play until we get to the bottom of this.”
Narrator: He kept playing on Saturday. And the unpredictable, unseeded Kyrgios won 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7) to reach the fourth round of the All England Club for the first time since 2016 – then faced criticism of the no. 4 seeds Tsitsipas because he has “a very bad side”.
“It’s constant bullying. That’s what he does. He bullies the opponents,” said Tsitsipas, the runner-up of the 2021 French Open, who also lost to Kyrgios on grass at a tournament in Halle, Germany last month. “He was probably a bully himself at school. I don’t like bullies.”
There was more, so much more, from the Kyrgios’ underarm serve—including one between his legs—to the three shots Tsitsipas purposefully slammed into him. In total, three code violations were called by chair umpire Damien Dumusois, one against Kyrgios for audible obscenity and two against Tsitsipas for misuse of the ball, resulting in a penalty point.
Kyrgios, who was told about Tsitsipas’ “bully” comment, laughed and shook his head.
“He was the one who hit balls at me. He was the one who hit a spectator. … I didn’t do anything. Other than going back and forth with the referee, I didn’t do anything against Stefanos today that was disrespectful, I don’t think,” Kyrgios said at his press conference, wearing a T-shirt with former NBA player Dennis Rodman’s name on it.
“If that bothers him today, that’s what’s holding him back,” Kyrgios said of Tsitsipas. ‘Because someone can just do that, and it upsets him? I just like it soft.”
There was even great tennis along the way, with the players totaling 118 winners. It all lasted 3 hours 17 minutes, with almost a dull moment, and it ended so late that the retractable roof of Court No 1 closed and the artificial lights came on halfway through the fourth set.
Tsitsipas had a few set points to force a fifth, but Kyrgios saved both, the latter taking a half volley winner after serve-and-volley on a second serve.
Kyrgios, a 27-year-old from Australia, converted his second match point with a drop shot and then roared. That kind of skill has always been evident from Kyrgios, who was a two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist. Also long-obvious: Kyrgios often seems more interested in entertaining or arguing than doing whatever it takes to finish on the right side of the score.
On Saturday, during a switch midway through the fourth set, Kyrgios sat in his chair barking between bites on a banana. Did he yell at an official? With the people in his guest box? On it’s own? Hard to know with him, sometimes.
He was fined $10,000 by the tournament for unsportsmanlike conduct during his first round match, which he ended by spitting at a spectator he said was disturbing him. It is the largest of the 22 prize money penalties issued in Week 1.
Kyrgios has a history of crossing the line in competitions. In 2019, he was given six months’ probation by the ATP Tour after being fined $113,000 for eight tournament violations. Earlier that season, he was given notice of default from a match at the Italian Open after throwing a chair. In 2016, he was banned by the ATP for failing to win and for insulting fans at the Shanghai Masters.
His troubles with Dumusois started in the first set when he was interrupted by a reverse call from a linesman and he wanted that official removed. Didn’t happen.
“There comes a point where you get really tired of it, let’s say,” said Tsitsipas, a 23-year-old from Greece. “The constant talking, the constant complaining.”
After Kyrgios broke to take the second set, Tsitsipas backhanded a ball into the crowd. The ball seemed to bounce off a wall, but what wasn’t quite clear was whether it landed on someone.
Tsitsipas later apologized, saying it stemmed from frustration caused by “all the circus shows going on on the other side of the net”.
“I didn’t hit anyone. It hit the wall, thank goodness,’ he said, acknowledging that he was trying to hit his enemy with some other balls aimed straight at his body. “I will certainly never do that again. It is certainly my responsibility.”
That only resulted in a warning from Dumusois, which did not go down well with Kyrgios.
“You can’t hit a ball in the crowd and hit someone without failing,” said Kyrgios, who cited the 2020 US Open episode involving Novak Djokovic, who was thrown out of a match after accidentally hitting a ball. who had hit a linesman in the throat.
At one point, Kyrgios told Dumusois: “You don’t know how to play, so why don’t you tell me how to play? … Bro, people want to see me, not you.”
They’ll get another chance to see Kyrgios on Monday when he faces Brandon Nakashima for a spot in the quarter-finals. Nakashima is one of four American men in the fourth round, the most at Wimbledon since 1999.
Monday’s other men’s matches are 22-time Major Rafael Nadal against No. 21 Botic van de Zandschulp, No. 11 Taylor Fritz against qualifier Jason Kubler and No. 19 Alex de Minaur against Cristian Garin.
Nadal’s 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over number 27 Lorenzo Sonego wasn’t nearly as off-the-rail as Kyrgios vs. Tsitsipas, but it had its own bit of back and forth between the players over etiquette.
Nadal didn’t like that Sonego’s grunts were too loud and extended too long. Sonego didn’t like Nadal beckoning him to talk about it on the Internet.
Unlike Kyrgios and Tsitsipas, they settled their differences in the locker room afterwards.
“I have to say,” Nadal said at his press conference, “that I was wrong.”
Tsitsipas calls Kyrgios a bully after crowds at Wimbledon, loss originally appeared on NBCSports.com