Controversial Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios is facing a fresh backlash from fans after he was eliminated from the Shanghai Masters after appearing to concede a match from the opening set, before telling those who booed him “I don’t owe them anything”.
The 21-year-old started to serve without putting any effort into his movement, and at one stage was already walking off the court before his opponent, Mischa Zverev, has returned the ball. His complete lack of effort prompted boos from the crowd – not for the first time in his young-yet-tarnished career – and he eventually slumped to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat in the second round, just days after winning the Japan Open.
Kyrgios’s time in the Far East has already sparked controversy after he claimed he was “bored” during his first-round victory over Sam Querrey earlier this week, but his latest actions could well land him in hot water once again.
As well as walking off the court while the point was still being played, Kyrgios served without putting effort into his motion and also engaged in a heated argument with a fan who told him to “respect the game” and “respect the people”. He also received a code violation for swearing from umpire Ali Nili, who told him: “Nick, you can't play like that. It's just not professional. This is a professional tournament.”
In an astonishing reply, Kyrgios said: “Can you call time so I can finish this match and go home?'
The world No 14 – 96 places higher than Zverev – was clearly unrepentant afterwards, and continued his verbal attack on the fans who had paid good money to see him on Wednesday. Having told a spectator who criticised him “you wanna come here and play? Sit down and shut up and watch’, Kyrgios delivered a remarkable press conference in which he defended his right to not put any effort into matches.
“I don't owe them anything,” Kyrgios said. “It's my choice. If you don't like it, I didn't ask you to come watch. Just leave.”
He added: “I feel like if they knew what they were talking about they'd be on the tennis court and being successful as well. I can't really understand it at all. They don't know what I'm going through, so no, I don't understand it.
“If you're so good at giving advice and so good at tennis, why aren't you as good as me? Why aren't you on the tour?'
“You want to buy a ticket? Come watch me. You know I'm unpredictable. It's your choice. I don't owe you anything. [It] Doesn't affect how I sleep at night.”
Asked if he had any hopes of qualifying for the ATP Finals in London next month, where the top eight in the world – fitness permitting – clash in a lucrative contest in London, he answered: “I couldn't care less, to be completely honest with you.”
Attempting to try and justify his actions, Kyrgios blamed his schedule and the long travelling between tournaments, and claimed that he was trying to work on his consistency to be able to compete in every tournament that he plays in.
“It was just tough. Obviously I played a lot of matches in a row. Physically tired, mentally tired,” he said.
“That's why I'm trying to work on being able to be consistent every week. Just took the easy way out tonight and obviously didn't show up at all. I wasn't so much frustrated. I just tapped out a little bit, I guess.”
It’s not the first time that Kyrgios has landed himself in trouble for his actions on the court. At Wimbledon last year, he was booed by the crowd after refusing to return Richard Gasquet’s serve – at one stage he held his racket upside down.
A month later at the Davis Cup encounter between Australia and Kazakhstan, Kyrgios was heard to say “I don’t want to be here” on the court and also smashed up his racket during a four-set defeat, and he also landed himself in trouble in Montreal in August last year when he made ill-advised comments to opponent Stan Wawrinka that claimed his girlfriend had slept with another player.
“[Thanasi] Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that mate,” Kyrgios was heard to say during the second set of their encounter, which prompted widespread criticism from across the game.Reuse content