Tennis greats slammed the behaviour of Australia’s bad boy Nick Kyrgios after yet another inexplicable meltdown triggered a spectacular early exit from the Australian Open.
The combustible 21-year-old was booed off court and accused of giving up as he crashed out in the second round in a stormy five-set defeat to Italian Andreas Seppi on Wednesday, despite winning the first two sets.
The latest episode in the tempestuous tennis career of Kyrgios comes as he makes his return from a ban for “lack of best efforts”, commonly known as tanking, during a match in Shanghai. After he was penalised for throwing down his racquet in the third set, Kyrgios unravelled and started playing casually and lethargically, unnecessarily hitting a ‘tweener’ shot between his legs.
The tennis world remained incredulous on Thursday over yet another of Kyrgios’s volcanic self-destructions from a winning position, but McEnroe was particularly damning.
“Even I’m at a loss for words. Overall I would call it a damn shame because I think he’s the most talented guy in the world (aged) 21 and under — maybe even at 29 and under,” McEnroe said. “He could be the best player in the world, but mentally he’s about 200 in the world, and I think at critical moments it showed. When he goes through those periods when he’s not competing, then it’s just a black eye for the sport. And it’s a black eye for him.”
Laver said, “He’s got a lot of talent, yes, but behaviour is part of the game, part of any sport,” he said. “And I think you’ve got to be able to represent the game you’re playing.”
Kyrgios meanwhile said he was struggling with an injury he picked up playing basketball, and admitted he hadn’t trained enough pre-season. “I’m disappointed,” he said. “I’m okay. You know, the world keeps spinning. I lost one match.”