Roger Federer described him as a “clown”, Rafael Nadal once accused him of disrespect and on a memorable Saturday night at Wimbledon, Stefanos Tsitsipas called him “bad” and a “bully”.
Love him or hate him, Nick Kyrgios is on track to become Wimbledon’s most controversial champion ever.
The 27-year-old Australian made the last 16 after a stormy encounter against Tsitsipas, as Wimbledon’s normally genteel Court One witnessed the tennis equivalent of a street brawl.
Both players accumulated code violations.
Kyrgios demanded that the Greek be given notice of default for hitting the ball into the crowd. At one point he refused to continue playing.
Tsitsipas admitted he deliberately tried to hit the Australian with the ball to stop the “circus”.
The Greek fell into the Kyrgios trap, blinked first and was out of the tournament after three hours and 17 minutes.
For Kyrgios it was another impressive scalp. Whether the antics, the constant talking and complaining, are tactical or not, his stats are impressive.
He has a winning record against four of the top five in the world.
Third-ranked Novak Djokovic, a potential final opponent at Wimbledon, has lost both times he has faced the Australian. The Serb has not even claimed a set.
Against the world number one Daniil Medvedev, Kyrgios’ balance is two wins and one loss.
Kyrgios is in second place with 4-3 Alexander Zverev and after Saturday is 4-1 in his rivalry with the number five in the world Tsitsipas.
Interestingly, icy Nadal and Federer have impressive numbers.
– ‘Golden arm’ –
World number four Nadal, who could be a rival in the semi-finals, has won six of his nine matches against the volatile Australian.
Federer has barely suffered, with a 6-1 lead.
Kyrgios came on the scene in 2014 when he stunned Nadal at Wimbledon, despite his modest ranking of 144.
He hit 30 aces and 77 winners to reach the quarterfinals.
One newspaper described him as the man with the “golden arm”. American legend John McEnroe said, “I think we’ve found the next man in the men’s game”.
Since then, however, Kyrgios’ story has been a cocktail of unfulfilled potential, court controversies and fines.
He was once sanctioned for making an lewd comment about a girlfriend of three-time big winner Stan Wawrinka.
Another fine came after he was accused of lack of effort in Shanghai in 2016.
At the 2019 Italian Open, he threw a chair on the track during a furious tirade.
Three years ago, he was fined $25,000 and given a 16-week suspension after a foul mouth and racket outburst in Cincinnati.
He then increased the charges by accusing the ATP of being “corrupt”.
In an interview last month, he estimated that his career fines totaled around $550,000.
After the first round at Wimbledon on Tuesday, he was another $10,000 worse off for describing a linesman as a “snitch” and for admitting to spitting at fans.
Kyrgios claims he is not getting the respect he deserves and has so far made a combative figure at all three of his Wimbledon news conferences after the match.
– ‘I do not care’ –
With an image of NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman on his sweatshirt, he refuted Tsitsipas’ accusations by claiming the Greek was too “soft”.
“I just went to Wimbledon and did it, and I did it. It was successful. Everything I did worked. I’m not going there to be his friend,” said Kyrgios, who insists he is one of the most popular players. in the locker room.
Kyrgios may look like he’s suffering from a persecution complex, but he’s up for Wimbledon.
He has shot 68 aces in three rounds, dropping the serve only twice and unleashing the third fastest serve of the tournament.
Next up is a polar opposite, the emotionless Brendon Nakashima of the United States, who finds himself in unfamiliar Grand Slam waters of the last 16.
In his ATP profile, Nakashima describes his worst quality as “being shy”, certainly not a character flaw by Kyrgios.
Win or lose on Monday, Kyrgios insists he will remain his own man.
“They have to watch me play the fourth round of Wimbledon. I also got a nice salary this week, so I don’t really care what they think,” he said.