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Kyrgios whacks Tsitsipas over ‘bully’ jibe after Aussie’s epic Wimbledon win

Nick Kyrgios has branded Stefanos Tsitsipas soft after the vanquished Greek accused the Australian of being a bully and possessing an “evil side” in a bitter postscript to the pair’s explosive third-round Wimbledon clash.

Kyrgios demanded Tsitsipas be defaulted after recklessly hitting a ball into the stands and almost striking a female spectator during his 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-3 7-6 (9-7) loss on Saturday.

Kyrgios also engaged in a running battle with the chair umpire, with both players receiving code violations for unsportsmanlike conduct during the spiteful encounter.

“It’s constant bullying, that’s what he does. He bullies the opponents. He was probably a bully at school himself. I don’t like bullies. I don’t like people that put other people down,” Tsitsipas said, sparking an ugly war of words.

“He has some good traits in his character as well. But he also has a very evil side to him, which, if it’s exposed, it can really do a lot of harm and bad to the people around him.”

Kyrgios laughed off the claims before sarcastically saying he’d be upset, too, if he’d lost to the same opponent four times in as many matches, as Tsitsipas has in their one-sided rivalry.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m not sure how I bullied him. He was the one hitting balls at me, he was the one that hit a spectator, he was the one that smacked it out of the stadium,” Kyrgios said after booking a fourth-round date with unseeded American Brandon Nakashima on Monday.

“I didn’t do anything. Apart from me just going back and forth to the umpire for a bit, I did nothing towards Stefanos today that was disrespectful, I don’t think. I was not drilling him with balls.”

Tsitsipas copped a point penalty at one stage for smashing a return off a Kyrgios under-arm serve into a scoreboard but the Greek conceded he was actually “aiming for the body of my opponent but I missed by a lot”.

The ousted fourth seed said he wished the players could come together to find a solution to Kyrgios’s on-court antics.

“This needs to stop. It’s not okay. Someone needs to sit down with him,” Tsitsipas said.

“I’m not used to play this way. But I cannot just sit there, act like a robot and act like someone that is completely cold and ignorant.

“It has happened three, four times now. Okay, one time I understand, but if it starts happening two, three, four times, it really gets to your nerves.

“Because you’re out there doing your job, and you have noise coming from the other side of the court for no absolute reason.

“Every single point that I played today I feel like there was something going on on the other side of the net.

“I’m not trying to be distracted by that because I know it might be intentional because for sure he can play other way and that’s his way of manipulating the opponent and making you feel distracted, in a way.

“There is no other player that does this. There is no other player that is so upset and frustrated all the time with something.

“I really hope all us players can come up with something and make this a cleaner version of our sport, have this kind of behaviour not accepted, not allowed, not tolerated.”

Kyrgios, though, doubted the locker-room would turn on him and said Tsitsipas would never be man enough to confront him directly.

“He’s that soft. To come in here and say I bullied him, that’s just soft,” Kyrgios said.

“If he’s affected by that today, then that’s what’s holding him back. Because someone can just do that and that’s going to throw him off his game like that. I just think it’s soft.

“I’m good in the locker room. I’ve got many friends, just to let you know. I’m actually one of the most liked. I’m set.

“He’s not liked. Let’s just put that there.”

The comments came after a fiery match, in which Kyrgios demanded Tsitsipas be defaulted for recklessly hitting a ball into the stands, narrowly missing a female spectator, before removing the world No.5 himself with a fractious 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-3 7-6 (9-7) victory on Saturday.

The Australian hot-head threatened a sit-down protest after Tsitsipas only received a code violation for back-handing a ball in frustration into the stands after losing the second set on Court One.

“You can’t hit a ball into a crowd and hit someone and not be defaulted,” Kyrgios bellowed at chair umpire Damien Dumusois over and over, while pointing out to the Frenchman that Novak Djokovic was booted out of the 2020 US Open for striking a lineswoman with a ball.

“I would like to speak a supervisor. I’m not playing until I speak to a supervisor,” demanded Kyrgios .

“Bring out more supervisors. I’m not done. Bring them all out.”

Grand slam supervisor Andreas Egli was having none of it.

It wasn’t long, though, before Wimbledon referee Gerry Armstrong and his assistant Denise Parnell were sighted anxiously watching on from behind the court.

Nick Kyrgios shakes hands with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Nick Kyrgios shakes hands with Stefanos Tsitsipas after their third round match at Wimbledon. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Netflix is producing a documentary featuring Kyrgios and Tsitsipas and the streaming service would have been salivating at the content that two of tennis’s most polarising figures dished up.

Kyrgios’s blow-up after Tsitsipas’s indiscretion was merely part of the theatre.

Kyrgios also called the chair umpire a disgrace and received a code violation after being reported by a linesman for swearing.

Tsitsipas, who had Australia’s former finalist Mark Philippoussis in his courtside box, complained to Dumusois that “this isn’t tennis” and copped a point penalty for smacking a return off a Kyrgios under-arm serve deliberately into the scoreboard.

Kyrgios also left his fans’ heart-in-mouth after falling awkwardly in the opening game of the fourth set and staying down for seemingly an age, clutching his right hip.

But he eventually rose to have the last laugh, recovering from a set down to defeat Tsitsipas for the fourth time in as many tour outings and advance to the last 16.

“I felt like the favourite coming in. I played in a couple of weeks ago but I knew it was going to be a tough match,” Kyrgios said.

“He’s a hell of a player and it was a hell of a match. I’m just super happy to be through.”

Kyrgios didn’t drop serve all night, saving all five break points he faced, and crunched 14 aces in another imperious serving display that will place his rivals on notice.

“I feel great,” he said when asked if he felt ready to win the tournament.

“I feel great physically now. I’m ready to go again if I need to play again tomorrow.” 

A quarter-finalist on debut as a teenager in 2014, the 27-year-old will play unseeded American Brandon Nakashima on Monday for another place in the last eight.

If he wins that, Kyrgios could meet Alex de Minaur in an all-Australian quarter-final – potentially for the right to take on Rafael Nadal in the semis.


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